A new multi-million pound strategy aimed at improving support and care for autistic people has been launched by the government today.
The Autism Strategy will be backed by nearly £75m in the first year, which includes £40m through the NHS Long Term Plan, to improve capacity in crisis services and support children with complex needs in inpatient care.
The strategy also aims to tackle the inequalities and barriers that autistic people face, taking steps to improve diagnosis and society’s understanding of autism, as well as strengthen access to education and support positive transitions into adulthood.
In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the strategy was developed following engagement with autistic people as well as their families and carers and will run until 2026.
“Improving the lives of autistic people is a priority and this new strategy, backed by almost £75 million in the first year, will help us create a society that truly understands and includes autistic people in all aspects of life,” said Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary.
“It will reduce diagnosis waiting times for children and adults and improve community support for autistic people. This is crucial in reducing the health inequalities they face, and the unacceptable life expectancy gap that exists today,” he added.
In the UK, there are approximately 700,000 autistic people – a large number of which experience health inequalities during their lives, said the DHSC.
“We and our supporters have long campaigned for a fully-funded public understanding campaign, significant investment in reducing diagnosis waiting times and better post-diagnostic support. No-one should feel judged for being autistic, or to have to wait many months for a potentially life changing diagnosis and vital help and support,” said Caroline Stevens, chief executive of the National Autistic Society.
“We’re really pleased to see concrete actions to tackle this in the first year of the new strategy, alongside other important commitments. The following four years will be just as vital. It's crucial that the Government invest in autistic people, and finally create a society that really works for autistic children, adults and their families,” she added.