We campaign to change things for the better for autistic people and their families. We are grateful for your supporting our campaigning activities which has enabled the following life-changing successes.

Every Teacher
Autism diagnosis crisis
Careless
Push for Action
Who Benefits?
‘I Exist’ and the Autism Act 2009
Haringey local campaign
Get Maisie Home local campaign
Bristol Autism Project local campaign
We Exist
Act Now

Every Teacher 

A teacher and a pupil reading a book

With the vast majority of children on the autism spectrum in mainstream education, every teacher will teach a child on the autism spectrum at some point in their career. It is essential that every teacher has the tools to support all their pupils.

Early in 2016 we launched our Every Teacher campaign with Ambitious About Autism. Over 7,000 people signed our open letter calling on the Government to include autism as a compulsory part of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) for all new teachers in England. We're delighted that the Government listened, and training in autism will now be included in all new teacher training. This wouldn’t have been possible without thousands of you speaking out. Learn more.

Autism diagnosis crisis

Mother and son

Long waiting times for autism diagnosis have pushed people to crisis point for too long. Recent research indicated people are waiting over two years on average for an autism diagnosis after seeking professional help. Autistic people can experience avoidable mental health problems because of this. So in August 2015 we launched a campaign to help end the autism diagnosis crisis and change things for the better.

Together, we achieved some important changes. Thanks to you, for the first time ever the NHS will start to measure the number of people diagnosed with autism in every area of England. This is a game-changing development. This data can play a vital role in making sure there are enough diagnosis services. We also convinced the Government to make the health inequality faced by autistic people a central aim of the NHS in England, to help them get better access to health services, including diagnosis. 

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Careless 

Some of our campaigners

When the Government introduced its Care Bill (England) in 2014, we had serious concerns that the new legislation could put autistic adults at risk of abuse, neglect and loneliness, as too many autistic adults would fall in the gaps of the proposed new system. The new system, as first proposed, did not identify needing verbal prompting with daily tasks, support to form and maintain relationships, or help to stay safe from abuse, as a means to qualify for support.

Through our Careless campaign, almost 9,000 people wrote to the Care Minister calling for amendments to the Bill. And following months of intense pressure from The National Autistic Society, the Government agreed to make changes.

The Careless campaign has ensured that autistic adults who need help to form relationships, or who need verbal prompting to carry out tasks, can qualify for support under the Care Act. It also strengthened the proposed protections for those at risk of abuse.

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Push for Action 

A man and a woman outdoors

2013 saw a Government Review of their Autism Strategy for England. And we saw an opportunity to push for better support for autistic adults. The Autism Act had been in force for over 3 years but 70% of autistic adults told us they weren’t getting the support they needed from social services.

As a result of the campaign, the Government’s revised strategy accepted several of our recommendations, including a new £4.5 million ‘innovation fund’ of ring-fenced funding for autism projects, and commitments to improve training for key professionals and make it easier for adults to get a diagnosis.

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Who Benefits?

A man wearing a hat

In 2010, the Government put forward proposals to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for adults with a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP). We launched a new campaign called Who Benefits?, highlighting the impact that the reforms were likely to have on autistic adults and calling for the needs of autistic adults to be taken into account in the assessment process. We also – along with other disability charities - called for a scrapping of the proposal to take the mobility part of the new benefit away from those in residential care.

As a result, the criteria for the benefit clearly sets out the need for prompting, support for engaging with others and help with planning and following a journey as areas that can mean you qualify for the benefit. The Government also reversed its proposal to scrap the mobility part of the benefit for those in residential care.

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‘I Exist’ and the Autism Act 2009

A group of autistic adults sitting around a table

Research for our I Exist campaign in 2008 found that autistic adults in England had been isolated and ignored, and without access to support many had become dependent on their families. And with no accountability for autistic adults anywhere, from councils and the NHS to national Government, we needed legislation to make any real impact.

The Autism Act was the result of two years of active campaigning, with thousands of National Autistic Society members and supporters persuading their MPs to get behind Cheryl Gillan MP’s Private Members Bill. The Act puts in place legislation to ensure that the Government publishes and regularly reviews a strategy to meet the needs of autistic adults in England. It also puts ‘statutory duties’ on local authorities to implement that strategy locally.

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Save Autism Services Haringey local campaign

A campaigner

In 2015 Haringey Council announced big cuts to the budget for adult social care services. We joined together with other local campaigners to create Save Autism Services Haringey (SASH) to oppose these cuts.  

We got the Council to back down on plans to cut £5.7 million from care packages through a large scale petition, using the local press, meeting with and lobbying local MPs and speaking at Council meetings to oppose the cut.  

Proposals to close day centres in the borough continued and it was confirmed in 2016 that the Roundway day centre would close. But through our campaign we have made sure that there will continue to be an autism specialist day centre in operation in the borough to provide support to autistic adults.  

Get Maisie Home local campaign

Two campaigners using a computer

The Get Maisie Home campaign started after Sally’s daughter Maisie, an autistic teenager from Hull, had to spend months in a mental health unit in Manchester – a 200 mile round trip for her family to see her. There was no unit closer to home, after a unit in Hull closed down in 2013. The campaign called for a new unit to be opened in Hull so that children, like Maisie, could get mental health support closer to home.

We worked alongside Sally, Maisie and others to champion their campaign in the community, in the press, and by meeting with important decision makers such as the Minister for Care Services. In June 2016 NHS England announced their plans to open a new mental health unit in Hull meaning that Maisie, and other autistic children like her, would not have to travel hundreds of miles from home. Learn more.

Bristol Autism Project local campaign

A woman with a little boy

The Bristol Autism Project is a local service that provides short breaks and respite for autistic children, providing a break for parents and carers, and fun activities for the children.

The service was proposed for closure, a move that would have meant there was no autism-specific short break service for children in the city. We led a campaign to oppose the closure and supported parents and carers to tell their story. The Council reversed their decision and committed to keeping the service open.

We Exist – Scotland

A mum and son using a computer

In 2010, Scotland was the only nation in the UK without any plans for an autism strategy or an autism act to tackle the multitude of challenges facing autistic people in Scotland and their families. We launched a new campaign, We Exist, in which we mapped out what needed to change.

Just one year later, the Scottish Government published a new strategy on autism in Scotland, with key actions around diagnosis, support in education and help provided in adulthood.

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Act Now – Wales

Two women using an iPad

In 2008, the Welsh Government developed the first ever autism strategy among the UK nations, signalling that it was a clear policy priority for Wales. However, autistic people and their families in Wales have increasingly reported that this strategy is not making the change needed quickly enough. In 2014 we launched Act Now calling on the Welsh Government to introduce an Autism Act for Wales.

As a result of our campaigning, in the lead up to the elections for the National Assembly for Wales in 2016, five of the six major parties in Wales included a pledge for an Act in their manifestos. After the election commitments were made for new legislation relating to autism in Wales. We will continue to campaign during the Assembly’s fifth term to make sure this happens.

Download the report (English)

Download the report (Welsh)