Dan Redfearn, Hayden Larder, Helen Larder, Holly Turton

Understanding Autism

Training pack

A training pack for support staff and professionals based on ‘Postcards from Aspie World’

The Understanding Autism training pack is based on the premise that learning from the experience of someone on the autism spectrum can teach support professionals how to be more person-centred and therefore achieve better outcomes.



Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a person with Asperger Syndrome looks like?

This delightful training resource is based on a series of postcards that offer an insight from moments in the life of a young woman with Asperger Syndrome.

Understanding Autism is based on the premise that learning from the experience of someone on the autism spectrum can help those who support individuals to understand and to adapt their approach and therefore achieve better outcomes.

The postcards that supplement this training pack (and are included within the resource) are showcased within PowerPoint slides and offer an introduction to key concepts, specific learning points, or explanations of activities to supplement learning.

The training pack meets the stated learning outcomes in the Skills for Care Autism Skills and Knowledge List (2011a) focusing particularly on the first three levels:

  • Underpinning values and attitudes
  • Basic awareness
  • Intermediate knowledge and skills

As such, it incorporates the requirements of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), with each session cross-referenced to the stated learning outcomes in the following autism specific knowledge units:

  • LD210 – introductory awareness of autistic spectrum conditions
  • LD310 – understand how to support individuals with autistic spectrum conditions
  • LD510 – promote good practice in the support of individuals with autistic spectrum conditions

Postcards from an Aspie World will also be available separately for families, groups, and individuals to use them for discussion about their own lives and situations.



Understanding Autism: A training pack for support staff and professionals based on ‘Postcards from Aspie World’ is an integral resource for professionals who support individuals with autism.

This includes, but is not limited to:

Teaching assistants
Support workers
Personal assistants
Social workers
Learning disability nurses
Speech and language therapists
Occupational therapists
Family carers
Advocates and volunteers.


ISBN: 9781910366929
Publisher: Pavilion Publishing and Media
Publication: 01 April 2016
Session 1: Understanding autism
• Overview
• Welcome and introduction to autism and the resource
• Exercise 1 – The autism spectrum
• Exercise 2 – Key characteristics of autism

Session 2: Autism in a wider context
• Overview
• Introduction
• Exercise 3 – Autism and the individual
• Exercise 4 – Coexisting conditions
• Exercise 5 – Getting a diagnosis

Session 3: Supporting individuals with autism: the ‘triad”
• Overview
• Introduction
• Exercise 6 – Supporting someone with communication
• Exercise 7 – Supporting someone with interaction
• Exercise 8 – Supporting someone with flexible thinking

Session 4: Supporting individuals with autism: sensory sensitivity and routines
• Overview
• Introduction
• Exercise 9 – Supporting someone with sensory sensitivity
• Exercise 10 – Supporting someone with routines

Session 5: Supporting individuals with autism: anxiety and difficult behaviours
• Overview
• Introduction
• Exercise 11 – Supporting someone with anxiety
• Exercise 12 – Supporting someone with difficult behaviours

Session 6: Supporting individuals with autism; independence and equality
• Overview
• Introduction
• Exercise 13 – An independent life
• Exercise 14 – Access to services and employment


Dan Redfearn
Dan Redfearn is a lecturer in nursing (learning disabilities) and social work.

Having qualified as a joint learning disability nursing and social work practitioner, he has worked in a variety
of learning disability practice settings specialising in healthcare, behaviours that challenge, and as an autism specialist with adults on the autism spectrum.

Holly Turton
Holly is currently a trainee clinical psychologist undertaking a doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Manchester.

Since completing her undergraduate degree in psychology, Holly has worked in several roles within learning disability and mental health services.

She has previously worked as a specialist assistant with adults on the autistic spectrum, and within this role spent three years supporting co-author Hayden.

Following this she completed a postgraduate certificate in advanced practice interventions for mental health and worked as a psychological well-being practitioner for adults with mental health issues.

Hayden Larder
Hayden Larder is a young woman who was diagnosed with autism when she was 16.

Hayden is currently a student continuing her studies at college.

She has completed childcare training and health and social care training and has spent several years volunteering at groups for children and young people with learning disabilities.

Helen Larder
Helen Larder is Hayden’s mother.

Helen has been a writer and teacher for 30 years, teaching creative writing, script writing and theatre studies to students in further education, undergraduates and postgraduates.

Publications include a novel for adults and a novel for young adults.


  1. J Booker

    I am responsible for delivering autism training for and on behalf of a charity and bought this pack after I saw Hayden and her mum, Helen, give a presentation at ‘Hands on Autism’ at Stepping Hill hospital last year. I was initially drawn to the programme by the insightful(and funny!) postcards but would fully recommend this training pack too. I have incorporated many elements of it into my own training package, however it would obviously also work well as a standalone programme.

  2. H Hayward

    As someone who has worked with young people with autism for almost 15 years, I was so impressed to see this pack of cards created. It is always a constant challenging and learning curve fully understanding the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of those people I work with and as hard as I try, I do not always get it right. I think a set of resources like this will work wonders for support workers, families and partners of people affected by autism and I would recommend it to everyone.

  3. MK & MW

    As the carer of a young person with autism for over twenty years, I welcome the practical and accessible approach of this training pack. The way it is designed enables anyone involved in educating or caring for someone with autism to increase their understanding and be more appropriate in their responses. The postcards provide a powerful starting point for discussion with teachers, relatives and friends. I wish I’d had access to it when I first became a foster carer.

  4. H Copesake

    As a teacher of children with severe learning disabilities, I wish this training pack had been around earlier in my career. Having studied it, I recommend it to all who are involved in working and caring for people with autism. Reading the ‘Life Stories’ booklet is an eye-opener. I didn’t want to put it down. The printable resources, manual with CD Rom, and postcards are so informative. The illustrations and Hayden Larder’s comments are both engaging and instructive. It answers all my questions.

  5. J Shirley

    An really original way in to the challenges and opportunities fo a young person with autism. The use of personal experience , humour and every day issues makes it a practical and user friendly pack. I feel it would be useful for anyone living or working with young people with autism – parents and professionals, both those that are new and a fresh take for the more experienced. The combination of personal experience and academic grounding makes it an ideal tool for training.

  6. J Boyd

    This training resource is very informative, easy to follow and engaging. The CD slides are visually interesting and include lots of helpful tips, practical advice and interactive exercises. The postcards are clear and heartfelt and have provided some really useful discussion material for my social work staff and the parents they work with. I would highly recommend this training pack to professionals, to develop skills and promote insight and understanding of autism.

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