The Autism Act

The governments vision

The government’s vision is that ‘all adults with autism are able to live fulfilling and rewarding lives within a society that accepts and understands them.'

The Secretary of State has developed a strategy for meeting the needs of adults in England with autistic spectrum conditions which involves improving the provision of relevant services to such adults by local authorities, NHS bodies and NHS foundation trusts.

Main areas of difficulty

Within the strategy, autism is defined as a lifelong condition that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. There are three main areas of difficulty; social communication, social interaction and social imagination.

Some of the issues that people with autism face are:

Social and economical exclusion, services that are not available consistently, different adults with autism in the same area will have very different experiences, risk of severe health and mental health problems, homelessness, and descent into crime or addiction for those without support

Although many adults with autism make successful and important contributions to their communities, the economy and their families, too many are dependent on benefits

Examples of good practice include:

Making adjustments for people with autism, for example not having to use waiting rooms. taking account of hypersensitivities and providing quiet or lower-light areas, scheduling appointments at less busy times and allocating extra time, preliminary visits to allow adults with autism to familiarise themselves with settings, avoiding ambiguous questions, not pressurising adults with autism in conversation and being aware of sensitivity to touch, ensuring essential documents and forms are available in accessible formats, in particular, easy read and formats that take account of sensory issues in their choice of colours.

The strategy will require:

The provision of relevant services for the purpose of diagnosing autistic spectrum conditions in adults, the identification of adults with such conditions, the assessment of the needs of adults with such conditions for relevant services, planning in relation to the provision of relevant services to persons with autistic spectrum conditions as they move from being children to adults, other planning in relation to the provision of relevant services to adults with autistic spectrum conditions, the training of staff who provide relevant services to adults with such conditions, local arrangements for leadership in relation to the provision of, relevant services to adults with such conditions.

Actions that this organisation will need to take will include:

Increasing awareness and understanding of autism among frontline professionals, contribute to developing a clear, consistent pathway for diagnosis in every area, which is followed by the offer of a personalised needs assessment, improving access for adults with autism to the services and support they need to live independently within the community, helping adults with autism into work, working with local partners to plan and develop appropriate services for adults with autism to meet identified needs and priorities.

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