An Autism Experience Group is being launched as the trust prepares to implement an autism strategy improving the experience of people with autism accessing local NHS services by better meeting their needs.
The experience group, made up solely of autistic people, will lead on the implementation of the autism strategy. Jorik Mol, who is himself autistic, is running the group and the trust’s patient participation and involvement team is supporting the group.
The announcement comes as the trust marks Autism Awareness Week.
Jorik said: “The room will be an autistic-only space. It will be led by me, Jorik Mol. I’m 31, I’m an autistic adult with a lot of experience with mental health services. As well as working for Oxford Health, I work as an English language teacher. I have a lot of experience leading debates and I am looking forward to a room full of autistic people making a difference to us and others like us.
“These sessions are not a method of support or therapy. Attendees will be part of the decision-making process for the implementation of the autism strategy. Basically, I will ask them about their lives and we will share our experiences to shape how we implement the autism strategy. We want to improve the lives of people on the spectrum and we cannot do that without the voices of autistic people. Our stories will have a direct impact on what we do to improve the lives of autistic people like us in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Wiltshire (Swindon). We believe that no decisions should be made about people without their involvement in the decision-making process.
“For this to happen, we need constant feedback and advice from a pool of autistic people from diverse backgrounds and with different perspectives on the services we need to provide. This includes people who are newly diagnosed or those who are awaiting diagnostic assessments. This does not include parents or relatives of autistic people, just autistic adults.
“All of this is important and the stories that we will be telling will be serious. In the unlikely event anyone feels unwell or distressed at the meeting, we will supply additional support on site to help them deescalate and calm down.
“People attending can let me know what requirements they have so we can make them feel at ease from the start. These include sensory sensitivities (lights, noise, phobias, temperature), physical impairments and dietary requirements.”
The autism experience sessions will be held twice a month on a Thursday from 6pm until 7.30pm, at Abell House, Horspath Driftway, Headington, Oxfordshire, OX3 7JH. In addition to the meeting room, two breakout rooms will be available.
Participants will be paid £10 an hour, a total of £15 a session, not including travel costs. If anyone wants to attend with another person (such as a parent or a carer) please let Jorik know to discuss in advance.
To find out more and to book your place at the sessions email firstname.lastname@example.org.