The Scottish Government is refreshing the Scottish Strategy for Autism and identifying what the Government and local authorities should do to improve services and support for autistic people. As part of this, they are looking for people’s views on what they should do.

We believe that the Strategy has made some progress over the last six years. However, we know that there is a lot left to do and we think that the Strategy needs to be strengthened in order to achieve this in its remaining four years.

It is important that this update to the Strategy includes what autistic people and their families say are the key issues. You can make sure that your views are heard by responding to the consultation.

It is a questionnaire that asks five questions. We have included some tips on filling out the questionnaire below. These are just a guide. You can use the form to tell the Government what you think it needs to focus on.

More information about the Strategy

The National Autistic Society Scotland has campaigned for many years to improve the support and services for autistic people. Our campaigning led, in 2011, to the publication of a ten year Scottish Strategy for Autism, which was then updated in 2015. It has four themes:

- a healthier life
- choice and control
- independence
- active citizenship

The Scottish Government thinks that these four themes are still the right ones to focus on and so they will continue to use them as the basis for the new strategy.

Our tips on responding to the consultation

We know that people will have a lot of really important things to say to the Government on these issues. The questions are quite broad, so we thought it would be helpful to suggest some of the things you might want to include. But you can include any information that you think is relevant or important.

Question 1: How can we ensure autistic people and their families enjoy healthier lives?

Things to consider:

• What was your experience of getting an autism diagnosis?
• Were you able to get an appointment with your GP and were they helpful?
• Did the health professionals (e.g. doctors or nurses) you dealt with have a good understanding of autism?
• Were you able to access mental health services, if required?

Question 2: How can we ensure autistic people have proper choice and control over the services they use and in their lives more generally?

Things to consider:

• Do you feel like you have a say in choices that are made about you and your future?
• Did you feel supported to make decisions relating to the services you use?
• Were advocacy services available to you?
• If you are a family member, do you feel that you were meaningfully involved in the care planning process?
• What has been your experience of Self Directed Support?

Question 3: What can we do to ensure autistic people can live independently?

Things to consider:

• Have you been able to get support from social care?
• What was your experience of getting an assessment of care needs?
• Did this assessment correctly identify the needs of you or the person you support?
• Were the right services available to meet those identified needs?
• If you are a carer were you able to access support?
• Is there sufficient access to respite or short breaks services?

Question 4: How can we ensure autistic people are active citizens, fully integrated and able participate in their communities and society?

Things to consider:

• Your experiences of the education system:
o Did education professionals have an understanding of autism?
o Were the transitions (for example between schools, or to adult services) handled well?
o Were you able to access further or higher education if you wanted to?
• Your experiences of employment:
o Was the right support available to help autistic people find work?
o Are workplaces doing enough to support autistic employees?
o What do you want from the new Scottish Employability Support Service?
• Are public places in Scotland ‘autism-friendly’?

Question 5: What one single thing could the Scottish Government do to improve autistic people’s lives?

This gives you the opportunity to highlight what you think is the most important thing the Government should do.

The deadline for responding to this consultation is 29 November 2017. Responses can be submitted online here.  You can read an overview of the strategy here, and the full strategy here.