The inspiring and outstanding work of autism professionals has been celebrated at the finals of a prestigious national award.
The third annual Autism Professional Awards took place last week in Harrogate, when both volunteers and professionals were recognised.
The biggest accolade – the Lifetime Achievement Award – went to renowned autism expert Jim Taylor, from Stirling in Scotland, who has dedicated the past 30 years to educating and improving the prospects of children with autism, as a teacher, principal, and currently director of education at New Struan School in Alloa.
There were also a number of awards for educational provision, with Autisan, a fudge-making creative enterprise run by the National Autistic Society’s Robert Ogden School in South Yorkshire, taking the Inspirational Education Provision Award (secondary).
There was also an Inspirational Education Provision Award for Suffolk County Council’s County Inclusive Resource, which supports children with autism attending mainstream schools.
Overall, there were 191 nominations for this year’s awards, with a shortlist of 38 making the final and a total of 15 winners being chosen by a panel of 10 autism experts.
Carol Povey, director of the National Autistic Society’s Centre for Autism, said: “Autism is a specialist field which attracts many talented and dedicated individuals, so it takes something extraordinary to stand out, especially in a year in which we received a record number of nominations.
“I hope the accomplishments of the winners and finalists inspire other professionals, schools and services to continue their efforts to improve the lives of people with autism.
“The awards were also a great opportunity for the finalists to network and share their expertise and experiences with their peers, with a view to promoting best autism practice.
“Autism can have a profound effect on individuals and families but, as shown by the achievements of the finalists, the right support can make all the difference and help them live the fullest life possible.”
For more information about the awards, visit www.autismprofessionalsawards.org.uk CAPTION: Inspiring: The finalists and winners celebrate at the third annual Autism Professional Awards (Photo: National Autistic Society).