The Autism Accreditation programme is a continuing accreditation process. It supports services in the interpretation of the Autism Accreditation standards and advises them on creating quality action groups to assist the process. Services carry out a self-audit process against our standards, using set criteria, until they are ready to undergo a formal review that consists of verification of the audit, observations of practice and discussions with key stakeholders by a team of professional peers.

The review team is unable to consider as evidence towards accreditation, unsolicited information provided by a third party outside of the review process. Autism Accreditation has no jurisdiction over the services that volunteer to be registered, and persons who have concerns about a service may be best advised to follow the complaints procedure of that service provider.

Key principles

The Autism Accreditation aims to set and encourage high standards of provision for autistic adults and children based on a personalised model of support. Whilst methods should be evidence-based and reflect what has been shown to have had positive outcomes for autistic people the research has also shown that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and therefore it is essential that approaches are tailored for the individual.

Autistic people are entitled to receive practical support if they require it to help them overcome the challenges they face in a society which very often fails to recognise or accommodate their needs. That support needs to be rooted in an understanding that autism is an integral part of who a person is, not just a disorder to be treated or suppressed so that the autistic person can present as more ‘normal’. Rather, support needs to work with a person’s autism rather than against it. We need to move away from a culture that assumes that professionals know best but rather values autistic people as the true experts.

Support should build upon the individual’s strengths, assets, interests and talents and enhance their self-esteem and sense of self-worth. It is not about doing things for the autistic person but rather providing them with the tools, skills and confidence to enable them to take control over their own lives. This process should start from their earliest years and should be the terms of reference by which the quality and impact of support is measured.

Excellent schools and services for autistic people do not work in isolation but rather seek to share and promote good practice to ensure that the community in which the people they support live and work is more inclusive.


A service that meets the Autism Accreditation Standards should be able to demonstrate that:

  • It is committed to providing effective support which is personal-centred and rooted in an appreciation of current knowledge and understanding of autism.
  • It seeks to understand each autistic person as an individual whose autism is an integral part of who they are and who have their own unique qualities, abilities, interests, preferences and challenges.
  • It enables each autistic person to carry out meaningful tasks and activities by employing a range of autism specific and personalised approaches and methods.
  • It demonstrates that autistic people are supported to achieve outcomes that have a positive and significant impact on their lives.

This evidence is evaluated using autism-specific criteria, which are applied to each area of the organisation reviewed.

Autism Accreditation standards

Our standards are unique in the fact that no other organisation in the world has developed such detailed and comprehensive standards for the education and care of people with autism.

The standards are comprised of a core framework based on the criteria for Accreditation. This is interpreted according to specialist protocols, including: 

  • Education (schools and colleges)
  • Adult community support and day services
  • Residential services
  • Educational outreach support services
  • Fostering agencies
  • Employment.

For further information about the Autism Accreditation standards, please go to the enquiries page.

Standards body


Mr Jim Taylor

Independent Consultant
Winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award - NAS Professional Awards 2015 


Dr Jacqui Ashton-Smith NAS Executive Director - Education
Ms Janet Corcoran Trustee - NAS & Lincolnshire Autistic Society
the Goth Editor, Asperger United
Mary McLean External professional and sibling of a person with autism
Dr Stephen Tyler Education Consultant
Ms Laura Cheek External professional, Westminster
Mr Fred Parsons External professional

Accreditation representative

Chris Mitchell  Head of Autism Accreditation

What benefits do members receive?

The Autism Accreditation peer review, reporting and panel process focuses on identifying strengths and good practice, and makes recommendations for areas that need further development. It supports continuous improvement.

To belong to the accreditation community is therefore to join the leading providers of support to people affected by autism.

Specific benefits include:

  • use of an internationally-recognised quality standard
  • access to our exclusive specialist standards, developed by current experts in the autism field from a wide range of disciplines
  • access to support from one of our expert advisors, through telephone support and visits
  • the creation of a quality action group in your service to work with our advisor 
  • a specialist review by experts of the service you provide
  • recommendations for how to improve practice
  • recognition throughout the Accreditation Community for Good Practice
  • your service being listed on our Autism Services Directory and Accreditation Register
  • invitation to our community network meetings twice a year.

The accreditation process

Autism Accreditation process


Accreditation process diagram

The evidence collated by the review team and the review team's findings are a matter of confidentiality between the service and Autism Accreditation and will not be shared with third parties without your consent. The exception to this is concerns about, or allegation of, abuse which will be disclosed in keeping with NAS policy.

If the service is accredited they are provided with a licence agreement for use of the Autism Accreditation logo and are able to state that it is 'Autism Accredited'. To retain this status the organisation must undergo further reviews every three years in order to demonstrate that accreditation standards are met.

If an organisation fails its review then it must re-start the process.

Safeguarding statement

We have no direct duty of care to the children and vulnerable adults in services registered with us. However, their welfare is of paramount importance. No service will be accredited unless it meets or exceeds best safeguarding practice.

We are not accountable for any safeguarding failure by a registered or accredited service. However, we will report any potential safeguarding issues to the proper regulatory authority immediately. We will do so following established local authority protocols. If a regulatory or police investigation finds a need for improvement, we will review that service's autism practice. This could lead to the suspension or removal of accredited status.

If the service is not accredited or registered, but the proprietor has other services which are, we will make enquiries. We would need to be sure that the failure was an isolated case which was unlikely to be repeated in other services.