Better support

You may have read about the work West Sussex County Council is undertaking with NHS partners in developing an Autism Framework in response to the Autism Act 2009 and I wanted to give further publicity and my personal endorsement to this important work.

It is vital adults who have a diagnosis of autism should be able to get help, support and understanding from public services in the same way as an adult with any other more visible or well-known disability.

Autism is often seen as a hidden disability; people diagnosed with autism can often look fine and therefore people can misunderstand their needs and think they don’t need help.

The new framework sets out the council and local NHS commitment to deliver improvements for adults with a diagnosis of autism over the next three years.

It covers support for young adults and parents who are leaving education and need help and advice around options for their future and support available.

The aim in the three-year period is to achieve greater recognition of, and understanding around, autism and people with autism and their parents and carers will get better support.

We are leading work to encourage all public services to recognise and respond more effectively to adults with autism.

We are doing this by providing and co-ordinating provision of information and training around autism and help available.

For example we have created new web pages, and have also funded an alert card people with autism can obtain and carry which has been supported by police, ambulance service and other public services.

The council and local health services have also commissioned new services, including:

n Self-advocacy groups for adults with autism: encouraging adults diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome to support each other and work to raise awareness and tackle discrimination

n Creating expertise and additional capacity in Prevention Assessment Teams – vulnerable adult workers who will have particular expertise in autism will be working in PATs from April, 2013

We hope all this work will ensure greater recognition of and understanding around autism in West Sussex and people with autism and their parents and carers will get better support.

Peter Catchpole

Cabinet Member for Health and Adults’ Services

West Sussex County Council