Anna Freud and AT-Autism have joined forces to develop a ground-breaking autism train the trainer programme for NHS England.

The National Autism Trainer Programme (NATP) will be delivered to 4,800 trainers over three years. This course is suitable for mental health professionals, across all seven NHS England regions, who currently work or may work with diagnosed or undiagnosed autistic people from the following settings:

  • adult and children and young people inpatient mental health hospitals
  • all age community mental health settings, including CAMHS
  • residential special schools and colleges - find out more about training for this setting at our Information session on 24 October book here 
  • secure welfare and youth justice

The training programme is co-designed, co-produced and co-delivered with autistic people and promotes an experience-sensitive, trauma-informed approach. During the pilot in 2022, most of our trainees agreed or strongly agreed that the course was informative and relevant to their role, and that trainers were engaging and knowledgeable.

No specialist or high-level skills are required to attend the course. However, in order to attend trainees must:

  • be working with a team of mental health professionals in one of the NHS settings or other settings listed above
  • have the availability and commitment to complete the four training days (09:00-17:00) over four weeks and, following training, train other staff in their NHS setting or other setting
  • have a desire to understand autistic people’s experiences and facilitate training designed by autistic content developers in their NHS or other facility, to improve outcomes for autistic people
  • actively engage in all training days and complete all reflection questionnaires throughout.

This training is additional and complementary to The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism.

If you are not working for NHS England / other setting listed above, or are not based in the UK, you can find out about other Anna Freud short courses on autism by emailing

Alexis Quinn, Autistic activist and author of 'Unbroken' and 'Autistic & Expecting'

“For far too long the autistic population have been marginalised for their expressions of difference and uniqueness.

We are compared unfavourably to all manner of undesirable things. At best, in my lifetime I was relentlessly bullied; at worst I was unnecessarily deprived of my liberty and assaulted in various institutions designed to care. If only people had understood my communication - my cries for help!

This training offers a neurodivergent-friendly approach to thinking about and supporting autistic people. Designed and delivered by the population it seeks to serve, it enables unique insights into autistic lives.

I have been pleased to support the work of AT-Autism and the Anna Freud Centre. Each engagement with the core management team on this programme has been a breath of fresh air - they are approachable, flexible and understanding. Most importantly I feel supported and accepted - two 'feelings' I have not been used to. As a result, I feel hopeful in our shared goals.”

Delivered in partnership with 

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