The Welsh Government published its refreshed Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan today. This replaces existing guidance on the services and support autistic people and their families in Wales can expect to receive.
The new strategy will be supported by an integrated autism service, backed by six million pounds over the next three years. The service will seek to provide:
- new adult diagnostic services
- support for families and carers
- help with transition from child to adult provision
- and training for professionals.
The National Autistic Society Cymru has long been campaigning for many of the aims identified in the new strategy, such as clearer diagnostic pathways and monitoring of delivery and implementation.
We welcome many of the initiatives that the refreshed strategy promotes and we believe that these ambitions can best be realised with the support of specific autism legislation. Ninety per cent of participants in our recent survey agreed.
Meleri Thomas, of The National Autistic Society Cymru said:
"The Welsh Government's new autism strategy includes promising new actions designed to bring down waiting times for diagnosis across Wales. But it stops short of introducing new autism legislation that we believe can help to make this happen.
Just last year, six out of ten people or family members who responded to our Act Now campaign survey said they had waited more than a year for a diagnosis. And, shockingly, almost a third had waited more than two years.
"The new strategy will introduce a waiting time target for children's diagnosis and new services for adult diagnosis, as part of plans for a new integrated service to be introduced across Wales. It also includes important plans to increase professionals’ understanding of the needs of autistic people and to improve monitoring of autism services.
"If implemented properly, these steps should start to address some of the challenges facing autistic people and their families in Wales. But, we still believe there is a clear case for Welsh Government to introduce statutory duties on health boards and local authorities, through specific autism legislation, to provide a diagnostic service in every area and make sure autistic people can access the local support services they need.
"While the strategy doesn’t include new autism legislation, it is very welcome that it states that Welsh Government will keep this under review. Our charity will continue to work with the Government to make its new action plan and new integrated service a success, while continuing to make the case for autism legislation to ensure that the wider changes that are needed can be secured and maintained now and in the future."
Read the new strategy and delivery plan.