Today, the National Autism Project is launching a new report, called The Autism Dividend. This report looks at how best to address the needs of autistic people in the UK. Their research involved autistic people, autism organisations (including our charity), professionals and academics.
They found that government policy, support and services are often not based on the right evidence, that research to find out what services work best is underfunded, and that decision makers often do not understand that providing better services could help save money.
This adds to previous research suggesting that autism’s impact on the UK economy is £32 billion a year, and that too many autistic people’s needs are not met.
The report makes nine recommendations to address these serious problems:
1. Ensure timely identification and diagnosis
2. Provide evidence-supported interventions
3. Make the economic case for intervention
4. Remove barriers to access
5. Tackle environmental and other stressors
6. Fight discrimination
7. Ensure better transitions (for example between child and adult services)
8. Coordinate action across sectors
9. Build better information systems
The report is clear that each of these recommendations should be based on core principles, including: making sure support is personalised to each individual, people can make choices, that inequality is tackled and that autistic people of all ages can get support.
Find out more about these recommendations.
Our charity welcomes this report. Carol Povey, Director of our Centre for Autism (who was part of the project’s Expert Group), said: “This important report sets out how the Government can improve the prospects of autistic people and their families, in large part by gaining a better understanding of their needs and the support that can actually help.
“One of the biggest barriers to changing things for the better is that most government departments and public services don't routinely collect and share data on whether people using public services are autistic. This means we don't have an accurate enough picture of the number of autistic people in a given area, how long people are waiting for a diagnosis or which services are most effective. Without this data, and an idea of the needs of the autistic people in different authorities, it's almost impossible for commissioners to plan appropriate support and services.
“We urge the Government to consider the findings of this report carefully and take action to make sure that, across the country, there are the support and services in place to meet the needs of autistic people and their families.”