[87] S7, Ep7: Autism in mental health services: the experience of a late diagnosed autistic mental health nurse
Topics in this episode: ADHD, autism at work, autistic children, autistic parents, family, mental health, psychiatric nurse

Jacqui O’Riordan is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner from Harrogate, North Yorkshire in the UK. She has worked as a mental health nurse for almost 20 years, including working in a secure unit with chronically ill patients. She has worked in crisis assessment with Accident and Emergency and the Police since 2008.

Now 49, Jacqui was diagnosed as autistic and ADHD a year ago, and her two children are also autistic.

Since learning more about autism, she has begun to question the lack of proper training in neurodiversity that mental health professionals in the UK are currently given. She wants to see a push for better training and the inclusion of autistic staff in planning and delivering training. To this end, she recently set up a working group of autistic staff who work in her NHS organisation, including a Consultant Psychiatrist, social workers, nurses and admin staff, to explore this further.

In our conversation we talk about:

➡ How she and her children came to realise they were all autistic

➡ The positives and the challenges of living as a newly diagnosed family unit

➡ How her work as a psychiatric nurse has been impacted and informed by her deepening understanding of autism, and addressing the lack of knowledge and awareness in the profession

Squarepeg is a podcast in which neurodivergent women, and trans and nonbinary people, explore navigating a neurotypical world and share their insights, challenges and successes.

I hope that these conversations will be inspiring and thought provoking, open you up to new ways of thinking about being neurodivergent, and help you feel more connected to a worldwide community of people with similar experiences.

I’m Amy Richards, and after being diagnosed autistic at the age of 37 I’m now on a mission to learn more about different perspectives and issues around being a neurodivergent adult in a world that feels like it doesn’t quite fit.


The autistic student nurse Jacqui mentions at the end (who has since qualified):https://www.authenticallyemily.uk/

National Autistic Society information and signposts on autism and mental health: https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/mental-health

Mentalhealth.org information and signposts on autism and mental health: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/a-z-topics/autism-and-mental-health


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