New film to raise awareness of the signs of ASD

Cute little boy holding a film slate on a white background

We are delighted to share The Birthday Party, a training film for professionals. The film is a partnership project between government, university and clinical partners. It has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Welsh Government.

Scroll down to watch the film. To see a 40 second trailer first click here

What is the film about?

The film describes the signs of autism in children. The message of the film is that the same signs can show themselves in different ways. Because of these differences, signs can be often get missed. On the other hand behaviours seen in children with autism can be seen in children without autism too. But when particular behaviours are found together they form a distinctive and enduring pattern of SIGNS.

Two of the children in the film, Jack and Rhys are boys and one, Amy, is a girl. All are quite different and while Amy shows a different profile from both the two boys, this profile is not intended to show a ‘typical’ female profile of ASD; each child is unique, regardless of their gender. No two girls and no two boys will have an identical presentation of the signs.

Read the background on how we came to make the film, click here.

Who is the film for?

The film has been designed to help front-line professionals working in education, health-care, and social services. It is designed as a supplement to a training session. No background knowledge or training is required before viewing the film.

The purpose of the film is to help increase awareness in professionals and especially for flagging up concerns that may be relevant for referral. In a training session the film can be paused to facilitate further discussion with a trainer. The discussion can be about variation in how the signs may present and how the signs form a pattern or cluster to look out for.

Why is the film freely available if it is meant to be used for professional training?

After we finished making the film we gathered the views of several hundred professionals and parents. The majority gave us feedback that the film could be useful not only in a training session but also on its own. They also said that the film could be useful to everyone, not just to professionals. In any context the film can raise awareness of the signs and their pattern. For a summary of the views, please click here.

THE FILM!! CLICK HERE to watch The Birthday Party (18 mins)

We hope you find the film useful. We welcome your feedback. Please click here  and scroll down to the comment box.

To download the posters on the SIGNS and information about referral, click here and scroll down to the end.

Project Team: Sue Leekam, Wales Autism Research Centre, School of Psychology, Cardiff University,Johanna Manikiza, National ASD Development Team, Welsh Local Government Association, Judith Gould, Lorna Wing Centre, Masons Hill, Bromley, Sarah Carrington, Psychology, Aston University.

cast of film

May News: Birthday Party film preview!

Watch a 40 second preview of the Birthday Party training film here.

The full 18 minute film – The Birthday Party will be available in June on this webpage

Thank you to all the autism professionals, parents, family members and autistic adults who kindly gave their advice and views on the film. In the last few weeks Welsh Government colleagues gathered responses from 200 professionals and 100 parents at a series of recent events around Wales. Thank you to everyone who helped with this. For a summary of the responsesclick here

April News: The film is made! 

Johanna Manikiza, Welsh Local Government Association, the film crew from Injun and cast did a fantastic job in March, filming “The Birthday Party.”  Here is the wonderful cast! The film has been edited and is all ready for release in a week’s time. First we will be using the film to explore the views of professionals and assess its impact-potential, We will evaluate its impact by measuring how it is helping professionals who are working with children to recognise autism signs. Then the film will be available more widely and we hope that you’ll help us to share it with your community. It will be available in Welsh as well as English with the potential to be translated to other languages! More soon!

March News: Talking with members of the community

Since our update last month, we’ve been consulting with autistic individuals and parents before the filming to gather views on the script and presentation. The suggestions have been great and hugely helpful! Thank you to everyone who participated. Filming is now underway. More news in the next two weeks!

The film will be available in Welsh as well as English with the potential to be translated to other languages. We hope that when it is released you’ll help us to share it with your community! We will also trace its impact by following up on how it is helping professionals working with children to recognise autism signs. More on this soon!


What are we doing?
We are making a film on the SIGNS of ASD for front-line professionals who work with children. You’ll be able to watch it on this website and also on the ASDInfoWales website early in 2017.

Who is involved?
Our team includes researchers, clinicians and members of the Welsh Local Government Association. We are working together in a partnership sponsored by the Economic Research Council and the Welsh Government

Who are we?
Prof Sue Leekam, Cardiff University
Ms Jo Manikiza, Welsh Local Government Association and Public Health Wales funded by the Welsh Government
Dr Sarah Carrington, Aston University
Dr Judith Gould, Lorna Wing Centre

Sarah Barrett and Dr Chris Ramsden (Cardiff University) are helping with the data collection and website.

How are we doing it?
The film will re-create a typical scene from the life of children. The scenario will focus on signs identified in our research.

Download our published research article for more information about some of the signs.
Carrington, S. J., Leekam, S. R., Kent, R. G., Maljaars, J., Gould, J., Wing, L., Le Couteur, A. and Van Berckelaer-Onnes, I. (2015). Signposting for diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder using the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO). Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 9, 45-52. (10.1016/j.rasd.2014.10.003)

These and other signs feature in the Welsh Government’s website “Do you know the signs?”
See the Clinician’s Toolkit
See the Learning with Autism Programme

Where have we got to so far?
Right now we are working with the film production team. We will post updates, so follow our progress here.