Atlass programme candidates to receive University accreditation

Birmingham City University to Accredit Atlass

Stress Reduction in Care

The Atlass programme is an internationally recognised programme which focuses on applying principles of stress management and wellbeing to supporting people with autism and other Vunerable People in Care. We are pleased to announce that subject to final approval our programmes in Stress and wellbeing will receive accreditation from Birmingham City University.

This accreditation will mean that candidates will be able to apply for two Levels of accreditation leading to a University Award. This award is linked to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) published by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). This means that candidates who receive this award receive credits under what is known as the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).

Background to the Atlass Programme

The Atlass programme was developed in response to the growing awareness of the role that stress plays in the onset and maintenance of challenging behaviour or difficult episodes, and the impact it has on people’s lives. By acknowledging developmental difference the Atlass programme teaches practitioners to examine stress and coping in themselves, the people they support and their carers. To that end the Atlass approach teaches participants how to develop and implement Stress Reduction Plans for individuals taking account of the transaction between the person, their relationships and their environment.

Numerous studies have identified that carer stress plays a significant role in episodes of challenging behaviour and can mediate within a stressful encounter (Baker et al. 1997; Hauser-Cram et al. 2001; Donovan 1989; Dumas et al 1991). Moreover, Rose & Rose (2005) have noted the impact that stress in staff working for services with people with autism can have a significant impact on how that staff group interpret and respond to challenging behaviour, which ultimately affects the development, implementation and monitoring of both care and education plans.

Atlass Programme Courses

Studio 3 has designed this practical applied training course and, working with Birmingham University will be offering two programmes this year , one at level 4 and one at level 5. Participants attend a five day induction training course; this will be followed by three two day follow up sessions over the following year. In these sessions participants will demonstrate the application of their skills to specific individuals.


There are several assessment measurements for course participants, two key requirements are:

  • Candidates will have to produce a written stress management plan for an individual
  • Candidates will produce a brief report about their work (maximum 3000 words)

Course Deliverables

The Atlass programme has a number of specific aims to assist course participants in understanding the role of stress in the person’s life within the context of cognition, environment and relationships, and how this contributes to what may be viewed as challenging behaviour. Specifically course participants will learn:

  • Development within the context of inter-subjective experience and how this should be applied to children who present with challenging behaviours.
  • The underlying cognitive processes of human development and experience
  • The construct of self, the first person account and qualia
  • Low arousal approaches a conceptual framework (McDonnell, 2010), with a strong emphasis on creating reflective practitioners
  • Sensory perceptual differences, how we organise sensory information and its role in emotional distress and stress management
  • Stress and coping the role of environment and relationships within the stress transaction
  • The neurophysiology of a stressful encounter
  • The role of appraisal mechanisms in coping
  • Being mindful and encouraging mindfulness within support staff
  • Developing the mindful organization

Atlass and Autism

Autism is a disorder of neural development characterised by impaired social interaction and communication and by restricted and repetitive behaviour (APA, 2000). However, epidemiological studies have shown that autism is not, as Kanner (1943) first thought, a unique and separate condition occurring in children of otherwise typical development but that it is closely related to a range of developmental conditions. Given this high degree of variation among individuals on the autism spectrum, appropriate interventions and supports will be tailored made on a case by case basis.

The universal characteristic that seems to both moderate and mediate in how autism affects an individual’s well-being and behaviour is stress and coping. There is now a growing body of evidence to suggest that while individuals with autism may experience stress in typical ways, identified stressors and coping styles may vary greatly from that of typically developing individuals (Goodwin, Groden, Velicer, Lipsitt, Baron and Hofmann 2006).

The Atlass programme has been developed manage stress with this wide variety of coping abilities.

Atlass for other Vunerable People in Care

A growing number of both voluntary and public sector organisations who support and provide services for complex and vulnerable people, are adopting this way of working and conceptualizing systems of support from a stress reduction perspective; as such they have found the Atlass approach helpful in responding to the needs of individuals, their families and the staff who offer support.

As the Atlass programme has developed, we have enhanced the training programme and have now developed the university accredited course for organisations to augment their knowledge and understanding of the role of stress in people’s lives.

Training Course Dates