Guest Blog - Dr Ian Davidson

18 January 2018

Hello, my name is Ian Davidson and I am the lead psychiatrist for the Complex Recovery Assessment and Consultation (CRAC) adult autism assessment and diagnostic service. We form part of the CRAC suite of services, led by Clair Jones.

I am proud of our service, which started in November 2012. Initially we began in West Cheshire and subsequently we have extended our contracted services into Wirral, Vale Royal, East Cheshire and South Cheshire. Before our service, there was no dedicated autism diagnostic service at our Trust for adults without a learning disability.

In October 2016, in recognition of my work, I was honoured to be named an Autism Champion by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. This challenging role forms part of the RCPsych’s “Championing Autism” campaign. Primarily, my role has two main functions:

  • To ensure that the RCPsych , through its training and continued professional development standards, supports all psychiatrists to understand autism and to be able to make reasonable judgements relevant to the individual.
  • To contribute to the work being done by multiple individuals and organisations to improve the experience of autistic people across the country.

I am passionate about efforts to improve the patient experience for those with autism. Nationally, it is recognised that things need to move on from simple “Autism awareness”, to the delivery of effective, equitable services for people across the health and social care sector.

Results of this work to date:

The CRAC autism service has expanded over time in response to demand and has been restructured to allow more people to be seen. The number of people we have assessed has risen from 6 in 2012/13 to 212 in the seven months to end December 2017.

From the approximately 500 autistic people we have diagnosed to date, it is clear that each has an individual life story and pattern of traits, but certain things were common to all. In particular that generally through their lives they were told that they were doing things wrong, were the odd ones out and that they were misunderstanding others.

They also reported feeling that they were not listened to when they tried to describe things from their perspective. The CRAC service has developed the CWP approach of strengths, needs and aspirations, rather than problem/deficit orientated assessments to identify with each person their autistic traits and how these contribute positively or negatively to their lives and future plans.

I am delighted and conscious of both the privileged access and responsibilities that my roles give to me. I can draw upon local experience and all the individual life stories to help participate in national initiatives and discussions. In turn, I have been able to bring back learning from the national work to help inform CWP and local services.

How you can get involved:

CWP is working to increase the voice of autistic people. For example, the first co-designed course at a Recovery College starts this month (January 2018) and I would welcome more input to this process. There is also an autism work stream led by Clair Jones to improve CWP services for autistic people and if you would like to get involved please contact Clair via e-mail at: 

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