Our Act Now campaign has reached a significant milestone: The National Assembly for Wales has voted in favour of autism legislation. 

National Assembly for Wales

The Bill is being taken forward by Assembly Member Paul Davies. It was debated today in the Assembly. Assembly Members (AMs) agreed with us and the calls of our Act Now campaign, that specific autism legislation is needed to better support autistic people and their families in Wales. 

If enacted, the Bill could include:

  • a duty on every local area in Wales to have a pathway to diagnosis of autism 
  • duties on local authorities and health boards about the way they organise local services and support for autistic people and their families in Wales
  • a requirement on key staff working with autistic people to receive autism training 
  • duties around ensuring that local authorities and health boards publish information on the services they provide for autistic people in their areas 
  • a duty on Welsh Government to regularly review progress.

During the debate, it was agreed that the Welsh Government has made improvements through the ASD strategic action plan, first published in 2008. However, Welsh Government agreed that more needs to be done to support autistic people in Wales.

Social Services and Public Health Minister, Rebecca Evans, said that other actions the Government is implementing should benefit autistic people and committed to monitoring these over the next year. They include the Social Services and Wellbeing Act and the new integrated autism service which is being rolled out across Wales. As well as this, the Minister announced that she would be introducing Statutory Guidance on autism. She said:

“I am pleased to announce today that I will, in this Assembly term, introduce statutory guidance on autism under the Social Services and Wellbeing Act to underpin delivery of the strategic action plan. This will ensure that statutory bodies understand their responsibilities towards people with autism and take action to meet those needs.”

Our charity will also be working over the next year to make sure that autistic people and their families are involved in the next steps and that any decisions made will improve the services and support available. 

Meleri Thomas, of The National Autistic Society Cymru, said: 

We’re delighted that the National Assembly for Wales has agreed to pass the general principles of this Bill, meaning that autism legislation in Wales can be discussed further.

"Our members and supporters who attended the debate, as well as those that contacted their local AMs to share their experiences have been the driving force behind this hugely positive step forward."

“As part of our Act Now campaign, The National Autistic Society Cymru has long called for support and services that autistic people can expect to receive to be placed on a statutory footing. We will work with all parties to support the development of legislation that protects and promotes the rights of autistic people in Wales.”

Read our Autism [Wales] Bill Q&A

Watch the debate

How Assembly Members voted