Established in 2016 to develop a pilot training for professionals working with persons on the autism spectrum (independently of their area of knowledge), the Erasmus+ project IPA+ (Inclusion of People with Autism in Europe. Towards a specialised training model for professionals) gathered partners from Spain, Serbia and Portugal, as well as Autism-Europe from Belgium.
Taking into account the diversity of the profiles of autistic people, as well as the current approaches and intervention models in autism that are restructuring support services and the role of professionals, the IPA+ project proposed a new educational strategy to qualify professionals to support autistic people in different contexts and spheres of life.
The project brought together academics, multidisciplinary professionals, parents and self-advocates from various autism organisations from Spain (project coordinator Polibienestar from the University of Valencia and the Asociación de Padres de Personas con Autismo – Autismo Burgos), Portugal (the Portuguese Federation of Autism) and Serbia (the Serbian Society of Autism). Those involved came from various backgrounds and had a wide set of skills.
Project partners created and trialed a comprehensive level training for professionals in need to acquire the foundational knowledge to work with autistic people, and an expert level for those who want to gain specialist knowledge and skills. The result is a 3-month Comprehensive Course (Level I) with 7 modules and a 3-month Expert Course (Level II) with 3 modules.
The training has a lifelong perspective, following an evidence-based approach. The final IPA+ curriculum and toolkit are freely available on the project website in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Serbian.
The training was developed based on the findings of a literature review, as well as interviews with 48 multidisciplinary and international professionals through focus groups and a Delphi study with 28 participants (including people on the autism spectrum, relatives, trainers and professionals), both of which aimed at providing an accurate views of the needs and expectations regarding the curricular requirements for such a training course.
IPA+ curriculum and toolkit
Participating in the IPA+ modules will help professionals to grow in confidence, assisting them in making and implementing strategies to meet the needs of the autistic people they work with. Self-help strategies will also help them ease stress associated with their professional activity.
The content of each module presents the latest examples of best practices as recognised by autism practitioners and experts in the field. It is hoped that participating in the modules will help professional to grow in confidence.
The content of the modules promotes the use of positive strategies, and is based around the following topics:
- How to recognise autism;
- Science-based or evidence-based contents;
- How to support autistic people and their families;
- What repetitive behaviors mean and how to work with autistic people;
- How to design and implement individualised plans;
- How to interact with families and involve them in the care or intervention;
- How to supervise and evaluate autistic people;
- How to collaborate and communicate with other professionals;
- How to intervene with people on the autism spectrum;
- Promotion of quality of life: independence, social aspects, etc.;
- Self-care (or well-being) of professionals.
Download the courses
By clicking on the links below, you can freely download both courses in the language of your choice:
Impact of the IPA+ project
In two years’ time, the IPA+ project delivered 6 face-to-face training sessions to around 100 professionals in Spain, Portugal and Serbia.
Throughout the end of 2018, more than 250 professionals, families/caregivers, decision-makers, journalists and other interested parties attended the 4 different IPA+ multiplier events held in Lisbon (Portugal), Belgrade (Serbia), Burgos (Spain) and Brussels (Belgium), aiming at raising awareness of the importance of education in autism for professionals and sharing the work and expertise of the project’s partners to a wider audience.
Before each of these events, project partners held discussions with national, regional and local key stakeholders (such as representatives of the government, municipalities, NGOs, universities, institutions for education and/or disabilities etc.), to discuss about the importance of sustaining the legacy of the IPA+ training after the project’s completion.
About the Erasmus+ Programme
Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. Its budget of €14.7 billion will provide opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain experience, and volunteer abroad.