Mechanisms of multi-agency working that work for professionals such as joint meetings with high numbers of attendees and personal involvement of the child may not work for children with autism, even those considered to be high functioning. This is due to the core difficulties: social communication, social interaction and social imagination. Some examples of how this may present very real challenges to the child with autism are:
- Social impairment may manifest in such ways that essential meetings with groups of professionals result in high levels of anxiety and fear.
- The social communicative impairment may result in the child being unable to get their needs across and misunderstanding others' communications.
- Having many professionals directly involved, and developing relationships with new professionals, might be highly stressful. Reasons may include difficulties building relationships and misperceptions of the role of the professional.
- The ability to self reflect and report accurately on their life experiences is likely to be affected.
Providing alternative ways to represent the child's experiences and views at meetings may be more effective for the child than attending in person. Other support might include
- channelling multi-professional input into supporting and involving a core team of individuals whom the child knows and trusts
- identifying alternative means of communicating such as the child submitting written, drawn or photographic information
- an identified person advocating on their behalf
- pre-meeting sessions to prepare the child for the meeting
- offering alternatives to attending the meeting
- post meeting translation sessions in order to ascertain the child's understanding of what has taken place
- providing increased time and frequency in order to develop relationships.