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Think Autism: statutory guidance published

In this article Tim Nicholls, Policy & Parliamentary Officer at the National Autistic Society (NAS) introduces the publication of the new statutory guidance to implement the adult autism strategy for England (Think Autism), a key requirement of the Autism Act. 

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Think Autism: statutory guidance published

The new guidance has increased in scope to include employment and criminal justice. It also updates what local authorities and NHS bodies in England should be doing in relation to some new laws like the Care Act and the Children and Families Act for adults with autism. Specifically, the section relating to training has been made clearer, outlining which categories of professionals need particular levels of training.  There is also more description of what diagnostic and care pathways should look like.  

This guidance, by including more information for commissioners will make it clearer what councils and the NHS have to do to improve support for adults with autism. 
Key duties on councils and the NHS include:

•    Providing autism training for all staff in health and care services
•    Providing specialist training for key staff, such as GPs and community care assessors (this has been made clearer in the new guidance, to include more information about what different levels of awareness mean)
•    Providing a clear pathway to diagnosis and assessment for care and support needs. And that this cannot be denied to a person if they do not have a learning disability
•    Having an autism lead in the area (this will be a senior member of staff in your council who has responsibility for overseeing autism services in the area)
•    Having a plan in place to develop the right services for the area, based on adequate data about people with autism and their needs
•    Having a partnership board to involve and bring together key people in the area to make decisions about local services, including people with autism and their families.

The National Autistic Society's (NAS) Push for Action campaign showed that 70% of adults with autism were not getting the care and support they needed from social services. Likewise, 70% of adults with autism told the NAS that with more support they would be less isolated. 

After Push for Action, the Government reviewed the adult autism strategy for England, and published Think Autism, which committed to improving support for adults with autism and included a number of new areas, such as employment support and criminal justice. 

We know that, while a lot of local areas have been working to improve their services for adults with autism, progress remains patchy. We are calling on local decision makers to help drive forward the statutory guidance in every single area.  

More information can be found on the NAS website about the Autism Act, Think Autism and this new guidance

Author: Tim Nicholls, Policy & Parliamentary Officer at the National Autistic Society

Date added: 27 March 2015