Council specialist wins national autism award

Date published: 13 March 2019

Julie Dalton from Rochdale Borough Council’s additional needs service, which supports children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), won a prestigious accolade at the National Autistic Society's Autism Professionals Awards on 7 March.

The annual awards recognise people, services and schools across the UK who are making a difference to autistic people and their families. Twelve awards are given to individuals and organisations involved in education, health, social care, employment, and volunteering. 

Winners are chosen by an independent panel of autism specialists, who were looking for high standards of innovation, creativity, impact and sustainability.

Julie was given the Autism Professional Award at a ceremony at Birmingham Town Hall, in recognition of her innovative work. Julie and her team provide support and advice for mainstream schools with children and young people with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) or social communication difficulties.

Julie has also developed hub schools across the borough which provide a place for parents and teachers from other schools to meet with the team to gain advice and support.

Innovative collaborative work has been undertaken by the TASC team and the educational psychology service in offering accredited training for Autism Champions within Rochdale schools. This has been seen as an excellent strategy to support schools in developing and improving inclusive ASC practice.

They have also developed coffee mornings in schools, for parents to meet with other parents of children with ASC in a relaxed environment, where they can catch up and gain support from each other, and annual conferences which teachers and parents alike have found to be an excellent vehicle to raise awareness of autism and the support the council provides.

Ms Dalton was delighted with her win: “I am so pleased to receive such an award, but it’s never just about one person, it’s been a real team effort to raise ASC awareness in Rochdale. I feel very grateful to work with so many really caring and passionate people who want to make a difference to the lives of children and young people with ASC.”

There are approximately 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK. Being autistic means someone sees, hears and feels in a different, often more intense way to other people, which can make the world a very overwhelming place.

Councillor Kieran Heakin, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “What a fantastic achievement for Julie, and the team, to win such a highly acclaimed national award. It’s a wonderful reward for all the hard work and dedication Julie and the team put in to making sure that children and young people in our borough have fantastic support to help them thrive.” 

To find out more about the specialist educational needs support offered, please visit:

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