In this guest blog, kindly provided by our partners at the National Autistic Society, we bring you ten things you need to know about ten years of the Autism Act, plus a reminder that there are just a few days left to take part in their survey about it.
1. What is the Autism Act?
Autism Act was defining legislation when it passed in 2009. It was the result of two years of active campaigning by thousands of National Autistic Society supporters and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism. It is the only act dedicated to improving support and services for one disability.
2. What is the APPGA?
The APPGA is a cross-party group of MPs and Members of the House of Lords who work together to push autism up the agenda in Parliament. The National Autistic Society performs the role of secretary to the group.
This year we are working with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism to review the implementation of the Autism Act.
3. We want to hear from you
The first step of our project in recognising the 10 year anniversary of the Autism Act is to find out what has worked well, what hasn’t worked and what needs to change. As part of this we need your input – please complete our survey before 7 April.
4. The Autism Act improved diagnosis services
In 2009, prior to the Autism Act, most areas in England didn’t have an adult diagnosis service. Now almost all (93%) do. This has meant that more people have been able to receive an autism diagnosis.
5. Read Trevor’s story
“I didn’t know I was autistic when the Autism Act was passed in 2009. I knew that I had felt an ‘otherness’ for most of my life and when the diagnosis came in my mid 50s it was, overall, a positive experience. But I do wonder if I would have received “ that diagnosis without the Act.”
6. The Autism Act established partnership boards
Because of the Autism Act, it is now essential that adults with autism and parents/carers are involved in the development of local services. The adult autism strategy recommends the setting up of local Autism Partnership Boards that “brings together different organisations, services and stakeholders locally and sets a clear direction for improved services”.
7. We are holding inquiry sessions
The Autism Act and the related strategies have delivered some improvements for autistic adults in England. But we know there is more to be done. We are working with the APPGA to hold a series of inquiry sessions (from March to May) to hear first-hand from autistic people, families and professionals about what needs to change. The topics for these sessions include:
- mental health and physical health
- public understanding
- children services, education and transition
- support in adulthood
- access to justice.
8. What does SAF mean?
An Autism Self Assessment Framework (SAF) exercise must be carried out by all local authorities every two years. This shows the local authorities’ progress towards meeting the requirements of the Autism Act. The purpose of the self-assessment is to enable local strategy groups to review their progress and support future planning with partners including people with autism and their families. The 2018 SAF should be released shortly and we will use this data to compare local authority areas, develop benchmarks and identify areas where further action is needed.
9. We’re launching a report
Ten years of the Autism Act is a big anniversary for us, so we are reviewing our progress so far and identifying clear areas which need to change. In October 2019, we will release a report which will detail our findings from across the year and recommend how the Government can improve the implementation of the Autism Act.
10. We need you to campaign with us
We wouldn’t have got the Autism Act through Parliament without our supporters and we won’t be able to improve the strategy and statutory guidance without your help again. Please get involved with our work this year. Sign up to become a campaigner and stay tuned for our updates.
Would you like to work with autistic children?
If you would be interested in a teaching or support position at a school or alternative provision, why not get in touch or register with Axcis today and find out how we can assist you? Alternatively, if you are seeking staff for your school or provision, or would like to refer a friend to us, pop us and email – we’d be happy to help!