Responsive Communication Pilot Project

A Responsive Communication Service for Autistic Children and Young People in Carmarthenshire

We have been awarded funding by the LEADER fund and the Big Lottery to run a twelve-month Responsive Communication pilot project in Carmarthenshire. This project started on 1 February 2017 and service delivery formally began in May 2017.

Our Responsive Communication pilot project has three complementary elements:

  • three half-day events to raise awareness amongst parents, carers and professionals of the sensory aspects of autism and what it is like to live with autism, to raise awareness of our Responsive Communication project and to recruit participants into the project
  • twelve Responsive Communication courses for a total of 72 parents
  • telephone call-back service providing information on autism and Responsive Communication and signposting to relevant services.

Referrals into our project are open and your child does not need to have a formal diagnosis of autism to be eligible. Our project aims to support children and young people with autism or autistic traits who are functionally non-verbal, that is they communicate primarily via their behaviours. If you are a parent or professional, to request a referral form, please email Rorie Fulton at rorie@thecaldwellautismfoundation.org.uk.

Responsive Communication courses:

The Responsive Communication courses are at the heart of our project. One course takes place each month over the twelve-month duration of the project. Each course is attended by a group of six parents.

Workshops on Days 1 and 3 are co-hosted by two CAF practitioners who also undertake the home visits. Each parent receives one home visit on Day 1 (afternoon) or 2 (morning or afternoon).

Each course is made up as follows:

  • Day 1 (morning)

Workshop to get to know each other, share experiences of supporting an autistic person and learn about Responsive Communication and the sensory aspects of autism. Training and practice in using mini camcorder to film each other. Communal lunch to promote group identity and mutual support amongst parents.

  • Day 1 (afternoon)

Home visit from a CAF practitioner. Parent puts Responsive Communication into practice with the autistic person they care for, guided by CAF practitioner. Use of digital camera to record and reflect upon interactions.

  • Day 2 (morning)

Home visits, as above.

  • Day 2 (afternoon)

Home visits, as above.

  • Day 3 (morning)

Workshop to feedback and share experiences/film clips of using Responsive Communication with the autistic person they support. Communal lunch to promote group identity and mutual support amongst parents.

Each autistic person receives one home visit from a CAF Practitioner, either on Day 1 or 2. Each parent receives a weekly 30-minute Skype support session from their CAF Practitioner for the three weeks following their home visit.

By providing this service using a workshop/home visit/workshop model,  our aim is to promote and develop trust and empathy between the parents in each group, so that each group member becomes a resource for the others. The group thus becomes more powerful and a greater asset in the community than the sum of its parts. Over the course of the project, we will be linking up the groups across Carmarthenshire.

Free events

In March and April 2017, we held two free half-day events in Whitland and Carmarthen to raise awareness about autism, the sensory aspects of autism and the ways in which Responsive Communication can help, as well as to recruit parents to take part in our project. We will be holding a third free event in autumn 2017 which will be similar but will also include feedback from parents who have taken part in the project to date. To receive early information about this event, please email Rorie Fulton rorie@thecaldwellautismfoundation.org.uk and he will add you to our mailing list. Further details about this and other events can also be found on the Caldwell Autism Foundation Facebook page.