Department of Health and Social Care
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Autism strategy for a welcoming society

Autism strategy for a welcoming society

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 02 March 2010

The first strategy to help adults with autism in England live independently in a society that understands them, was launched today by Care Services Minister Phil Hope.

For too long, adults with autism have been excluded. Just 15 per cent are in paid employment and 49 per cent live at home with parents.

Fulfilling and rewarding lives, the strategy for adults with autism in England, is a foundation for culture change. It will start fundamental change in public services helping adults with autism to find work and live independent lives.

The strategy sets a clear framework for all mainstream public sector services to support adults with autism and is backed up by the Autism Act 2009, the first ever condition specific legislation.

The autism strategy includes:

a new National Autism Programme Board to lead change in public services set out in the strategy;

a programme to develop training with health and social care professional bodies – £500,000 investment is also announced today because better recognition and awareness in frontline public services is critical to giving adults with autism the support they need

autism awareness training for all Jobcentre Plus Disability Employment Advisers;

guidance on making public services accessible for adults with autism, like improving buildings, public transport and communication; and

a clear, consistent pathway for diagnosis.

Care Services Minister Phil Hope said:

“I want the autism strategy to be the foundation for change in the way our whole society treats adults with autism. They have a huge contribution to make - shutting them out deprives everyone.

“It is unacceptable that adults with autism are not getting the support they need to live independently and find work. This strategy will start a fundamental change in public services with better awareness and understanding. It puts more momentum into tackling social exclusion among adults with autism alongside other work, including new NICE clinical guidance and research.”

Jonathan Shaw, Minister for Disabled People, said:

"We know that work is good for you and we want to give everyone the support they need to get a job and stay in work. Everyone should have the chance to fulfil their potential and build a better life for themselves and their families.

"We will continue to raise awareness of the specific needs of people with autism amongst Jobcentre Plus staff and test initiatives to help those facing complex barriers to work, such as Project Search which provides internships for people with learning disabilities and autism."

Professor Declan Murphy, The Institute of Psychiatry, said:

“I am delighted that this initiative has been undertaken, it clearly demonstrates a 'joined up commitment' by the government across a number of relevant departments. It also demonstrates a clear commitment to improving the lives of adults with autism, and their families. By doing this the UK is leading the world.”

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, FBA, Director The Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University, said:

"The Autism Strategy is a very welcome statement of the Government's intention to ensure people with autism and their families receive the full support they need and deserve. It highlights in particular how adults with autism spectrum conditions have been invisible, marginalized, and left to suffer in a system they cannot negotiate unaided. Encouragingly, it pinpoints achievable solutions that could radically improve the lives of people with autism. This is an important new development, following on the heels of the historic new Autism Act. The hope is that the Autism Strategy will lead to the identification of desperately needed funding to meet the cost of these essential provisions."

The Government will publish a first year delivery plan in March 2010, followed by statutory guidance for health and social care by December 2010. The strategy will be reviewed in 2013.

Care Services Minister Phil Hope, yesterday (Tuesday 2 March) visited services at an adult care home run by Autism London – Photos are available.

In developing the strategy the Government worked closely with an External Reference Group, which represented a range of stakeholders including the National Autistic Society.

Notes to Editors

1. For embargoed copies of the strategy please contact the Department of Health press office.

2. The Autism Act 2009 is available at: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2009/ukpga_20090015_en_1

3. Professional bodies to be engaged in the £500,000 training programme are, Skills for Health, Skills for Care, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of General Practitioner, the British Psychological Society, the Social Care Institute for Excellence and the Royal College of Nursing.

4. Autism London run a range of services for people with autism in the Capital, for further information, please see: http://www.autismlondon.org.uk/

5. Care Services Minister Phil Hope will be speaking to a parliamentary reception hosted by the charity Autistica (Wednesday 3 March). For further details please contact Paul Burden: paul.burden@autistica.org.uk tel: 01628 483 481

6. For case studies and additional information contact the National Autistic Society. Gemma Bent 020 7903 3545 or see: http://www.nas.org.uk/

Contacts:

Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221
NDS.DH@coi.gsi.gov.uk

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