Every practice in England is set to receive resource packs on how to make their surgeries more friendly for patients with an autism spectrum disorder.
The packs, developed by the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), aim to support GP practices to meet the commitments in the RCGP Autism Patient Charter.
The charter, which was drawn up alongside the Autism Alliance UK, provides a framework for making GP surgeries more visibly friendly for those on the autistic spectrum.
This includes developing an autism-friendly staff and environment by making staff aware of the different ways people with autism wish communicate and creating a safe place where people feel comfortable disclosing their condition if they wish to.
The charter also aims to make staff aware of the likely causes behind challenging behavior and how to communicate effectively with someone in distress.
Following these principles, resources in the pack include a guide for patients on the autistic spectrum to help them get the most out of their GP visit.
The pack, which was also produced in collaboration with Autism Alliance UK as well as Research Autism, also includes a guide for GPs to support effective consultations with patients on the autistic spectrum.
Newcastle University has also contributed to the resources in the form of two national autistic spectrum disorders research projects.
Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs said: “I’m proud that the College is leading the way in taking steps to ensure our patients on the autistic spectrum receive the best possible, specific care they need.
“Autistic Spectrum Disorder is a clinical priority for the RCGP, under the leadership of Dr Carole Buckley, and the work that is being done will provide support to primary healthcare workers in the implementation of the Adult Autism Strategy.”
The RCGP identified Autistic Spectrum Disorder as a clinical priority in April 2014 for the following three years.
The aim of the programme is to improve training in autism and to raise awareness among GPs of the issues that affect people with autism, their families and their carers.
Autism Spectrum Disorder affects more than 700,000 people, however there are wide variations in the rates of identification and referral of autism across the UK.
The full set of clinical resources for GPs, families and carers can be found here.