Our Frontline Telephone Helpline Service
25th October 2021
Our very popular and important helpline service is fully funded through our fundraising activities. Here is an interview with Sally, an Autism Specialist Advisor, who helps to explain how the service can help and what the role is like for her.
We asked several questions and Sally was very kind a to be so open about the realities of the challenges faced by autistics and their parents, families and carers.
If you would like to help us fund this service, which is often someone’s first contact with us or anyone when in crisis, please use the donate button at the top right of this page or in the menu at the top right of a phone screen. Alternatively, you can email email@example.com to discuss how to fundraise for us.
What does your job entail?
I work on the helpline and provide 1:1 support and advice to anyone who has an enquiry about autism. My job is to help and support families, professionals, and autistic adults to access advice, information, signposting and resources. I give information about the services provided by Autism West Midlands and also services available for families and adults based in the community across the whole of the West Midlands.
What is the most important part of your role?
The most important part of my role is to see that everyone who calls the helpline feels listened to and supported. That the information they receive is correct, up to date and relevant to their situation and that advice is given in a timely manner
Why did you decide to join the AWM team?
After working with autistic children in an educational setting for the last 21years, I felt ready for a new challenge. I had always admired the work that Autism West Midlands did, and I was still intensely passionate about working with autism and trying to make a difference. This role seemed to be made for me, so I jumped at the chance to join the team!
What would you say is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is being able to talk to people on the helpline in a relaxed manner, creating a rapport and to be able to offer ideas, strategies that allow the person to feel that they are talking to someone who understands and empathizes. At the end of a call, hearing someone say, “ You have given me some really good ideas, it’s great to talk to someone who really understands and I’m so glad that I called today “, is the biggest pleasure.
Has being a helpline advisor changed how you previously perceived the challenges of being autistic?
Being the parent of two very different autistic adults, I have always been aware of the challenges being autistic brings on a personal level. However, I have been amazed at the variety of challenges autistic individuals face. Whether that is in education, family life, employment, getting a diagnosis or in terms of mental health, the challenges are immense! Being part of a team that gives individuals the tools to help them overcome those challenges gives me a sense of purpose, pride and satisfaction.
Sally was also able to collate some great feedback from some of the people we have helped.
“ I would keep you on the phone all day if I could” 12/07/2021
“ It really helps to talk to someone who understands and is able to offer experienced advice. I feel so much better for speaking to you” 21/06/2021
“Thank you for getting back to me so quickly I really do appreciate the information that you have gave me “. 09/08/2021
“I spoke to you back in June, you were incredibly helpful and reassuring and I’ve subsequently been referred by my GP for autism assessment”. 02/08/2021
“Thank you so much for all the relevant information and guidance that I can forward onto my patient”. 22/07/2021
“Thank you so much for your Email, it was lovely talking to you and I was very grateful for all your help and advise. The links below are very appreciated”. 22/07/2021
“Thank you so much Sally-you do not know how much we appreciate this. We will look through and start to get things in place that can help ***. Once again thank you so much”. 20/07/2021