Caroline quote
Like everyone else, we are focused on the Coronavirus pandemic and how we can help people to cope with this unprecedented situation. Here, our Chief Executive, Caroline Stevens, writes about what we’ll be doing to safeguard autistic people’s health and well-being during this very difficult time.

We have information and resources about Coronavirus to help you during this difficult time. We will be updating and expanding our information in the coming days.

The last week has been extraordinarily difficult for everyone. The Coronavirus has put pressure on all of us – and some autistic people have very few resources and networks to help get through this crisis. I want to make sure autistic people, families and friends, as well as the wider public, know what we are doing at the National Autistic Society to help. We have four clear priorities.

What we’re doing

First, we want to make sure that Government makes the right decisions. We are very concerned about the emergency powers in the Government’s Coronavirus Bill, As it currently stands, it will give autistic people less chance of getting the support they need. Instead of reducing people’s chances, we’ve said Government needs to put more money into the system so that people can get support that they will need more than ever. And, I’m relieved that yesterday, the Government announced £1.6bn for social care to support councils in their response to the outbreak. No-one knows yet if this will be enough – we need Government to commit more money if people need it. We are speaking up so that MPs and Government can understand what autistic people need.

Second, we want to make sure that autistic people and families get good guidance about how to cope. This pandemic will result in huge unexpected changes and disruption to everyday life that will be exceptionally hard for many autistic children and adults. A cancelled appointment, empty shelf or closure of a local café for many people could just be an inconvenience – but we know for autistic people of all ages these things could trigger intense stress and lead to a meltdown or a shut down. We are working with other charities to bring you the best advice on how to cope.

Third, we want to try and reduce people’s social isolation. Autistic people are already at far greater risk of being lonely and isolated. We can’t stop this entirely, but volunteers in our branches are working on creating ways online for autistic people to connect with one another. We’ll be launching digital film clubs, craft clubs and other ways for people to connect while the usual world stops.

Fourth of course we want to keep as many of our schools and social care services open as we possibly can. This will be a huge challenge but we know that people rely hugely on our schools and adult social care services. We’ve taken a range of steps to keep risk as low as possible and maintain staffing levels, such as stopping all non-essential visits and ensuring our staff follow the latest guidance to keep healthy.

Like other charities, we can only do all this with your support. Coronavirus has had a huge impact on our fundraising and yet demand for our vital help and services has never been higher. Please help us to carry on helping autistic people and their families by making a donation today.

Further information

We have Coronavirus information on our website. We will be expanding and updating this in the coming days.