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The importance of collaborative working with peri-natal mental health services

Actions and outcomes

The IAS’ Occupational Therapist (OT) was asked to carry out joint work with the Peri-natal mental health OT to support a client who had recently received an autism diagnosis and was 17 weeks pregnant. The 20-week scan was due, and the client was getting anxious because the 12-week scan had been a bad experience due to her sensory and communication difficulties.


The Peri-natal OT and IAS OT met with the client and together they worked out what adaptations could be made to help the client feel more comfortable at the 20-week scan e.g. having her partner there, writing questions down before attending, waiting in the car and being called in only when they were ready to see her, adjusting the lighting etc. These were communicated with the ultrasound department and they had no problems putting these adjustments in place for the client.


Alongside this, the IAS OT carried out a sensory assessment, fed this back and put in some strategies to help with the main difficulties of touch, sound and visual processing. The IAS OT also created a one-page profile with the client which she could take with her to the scan and also use at other hospital/midwife appointments outlining her main difficulties and how she could be supported.


The IAS OT also met with the client and her husband, and carried out some autism awareness work with the client’s husband who was very keen to learn more about autism and how he could support his wife. Work is now underway to look at how they can communicate more effectively in their relationship, especially when the client is anxious or distressed as this is an area they felt was most difficult for them.


The client has been really positive about the input she has had from both services. Although she is still anxious about scans, being pregnant, and giving birth she now has a better understanding of her sensory difficulties and how she can manage these. The client also knows that adaptations are in place for when she attends future scans and hospital appointments. She is also aware that the Peri-natal and IAS OT’s will work with her until the birth of her baby and beyond, in order to support her with the changes that she is going through.

Lessons Learned

It has been really positive working alongside the Peri-natal OT – a service the IAS had not yet had the opportunity to collaborate with. Also, the IAS OT had never worked closely with an autistic pregnant client before, so it is an exciting challenge to think about pregnancy and how some of the difficulties experienced by the client may impact on this and vice versa. The IAS OT has also had to think in new ways about the sensory challenges that women experience during pregnancy i.e. morning sickness, aches and pains, and feeling the baby moving.


Health Board:
Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board
Local Authority:
Integrated Autism Service:
Cwm Taf Morgannwg IAS