Photo of Integrated Autism Service document on purple background

 

The Welsh Government has published a final, independent report on the Evaluation of the Integrated Autism Service (IAS) and the Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan.

The detailed report looks at the development of the Integrated Autism Services across Wales, as well as progress made against the commitments contained within the Welsh Government’s refreshed Action Plan. The report is informed by interviews with autistic people and their families as well as professionals and voluntary groups and organisations.

Read the full report

Our charity commends the Welsh Government for commissioning this evaluation, which provides a series of helpful recommendations on how services and support can be strengthened.

The insight provided by this report, along with that of the National Assembly for Wales’ Health, Social Care and Sport Committee on the Autism (Wales) Bill, provide a clear picture of where improvements now need to happen.

Firstly, despite operating for a number of years in some areas, there is no clear reporting or monitoring mechanisms developed for the IAS. This makes it extremely difficult to judge demand for support, the capacity of the IAS’ to provide help or, crucially, whether or not the service is leading to improved outcomes for autistic people and their families. During the development of the Autism (Wales) Bill, the Welsh Government said that more time was needed to allow existing measures to bed in, but currently there isn’t any way to assess whether or not these initiatives are making a positive impact.

Secondly, it is clear that expectation management has been a significant issue. The timeline for the roll-out of the IAS has shifted considerably and each service has a different interpretation of the level of support they are expected to provide. This has meant that in some instances, those in need of help and support have had to wait far longer than they expected, only to be told that the IAS doesn’t provide the help they are seeking.

The report has also highlighted further issues that need to be addressed. These include:

  • Autistic people, their families and professionals don’t seem to have faith that there is sufficient services and support available to meet the wide range of needs that autistic people may have, such as access to education services or transition support.
  • A suggestion in the report that rather than a focus on developing the IAS alongside other commitments contained in the refreshed Action Plan, the focus on the IAS has been at the expense of other commitments, such as improving employment outcomes of autistic people.
  • A lack of clarity on the future sustainability and funding of the IAS.

Meleri Thomas, National Autistic Society Cymru External Affairs Manager, said:

It’s a positive step forward to see such a comprehensive outline of where we are in Wales in terms of the services and support available for autistic people and their families.

“It’s promising to see a clear improvement in collaborative working, and good examples of co-production of services with and for autistic people. It’s also encouraging to hear anecdotal evidence that the Integrated Autism Services are having an increasingly positive impact in some instances.

“The report’s recommendations, along with those made by the National Assembly Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, set out ways to improve and strengthen services, and we hope that the Welsh Government will accept these recommendations and set out the action it will take to deliver them.”