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Improving vision awareness in autism services: Evaluation of a dedicated education programme for support practitioners

Long, Joseph J.; Butchart, Maggie; Brown, Michael; Bain, Janice; McMillan, Anne; Karatzias, Thanos


Joseph J. Long

Maggie Butchart

Michael Brown

Janice Bain

Anne McMillan


Background: The research reported here sought to evaluate whether a dedicated education programme in vision awareness improved the knowledge and skills of autism support practitioners in identifying visual impairment in autistic people with intellectual disabilities
and providing better support to those individuals identified as visually impaired.
Methods: Researchers undertook a mixed methods evaluation. A survey questionnaire was devised and administered before and after training and focus groups were undertaken in order to gain qualitative data relating how practitioners implemented
their learning in practice.
Results: Knowledge confidence and practice confidence scores of participants were significantly improved by the programme, which maintained its impact one year on.
Practitioners reported increased access to optometry, changes to support practice and improvements to service environments as a result of the training.
Conclusion: Autism support practitioners’ skills in identifying and supporting people with visual impairments were demonstrably enhanced through dedicated vision training.


Long, J. J., Butchart, M., Brown, M., Bain, J., McMillan, A., & Karatzias, T. (2018). Improving vision awareness in autism services: Evaluation of a dedicated education programme for support practitioners. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 31(2), e244-e252.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 28, 2016
Online Publication Date Feb 20, 2017
Publication Date 2018-03
Deposit Date Feb 28, 2017
Journal Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Print ISSN 1360-2322
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 2
Pages e244-e252
Keywords autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, optometry, sight loss, social care, visual impairment
Public URL