New strategy to improve the lives of autistic people

The government has launched a new multi-million pound strategy to speed up diagnosis and improve support and care for autistic people.

Backed by nearly £75 million in the first year, the strategy aims to speed up diagnosis and improve support and care for autistic people. The funding includes £40 million through the NHS Long Term Plan to improve capacity in crisis services and support children with complex needs in inpatient care.

The five year strategy was developed following engagement with autistic people, their family and carers. It will support autistic children and adults through better access to education, more help to get into work, preventing avoidable admissions to healthcare settings, and training for prison staff to better support prisoners with complex needs.

There are approximately 700,000 autistic people in the UK and a large number experience health inequalities during their lives. The pandemic has exacerbated challenges many autistic people already face, such as loneliness and social isolation, and anxiety.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said: “Improving the lives of autistic people is a priority and this new strategy, backed by almost £75 million in the first year, will help us create a society that truly understands and includes autistic people in all aspects of life. It will reduce diagnosis waiting times for children and adults and improve community support for autistic people. This is crucial in reducing the health inequalities they face, and the unacceptable life expectancy gap that exists today.”

Minister for Care, Helen Whately said: “Far too many autistic people still struggle to get the support they need in childhood, and as adults – and this is often exacerbated by not getting a timely diagnosis. This landmark strategy will help give autistic people equal opportunities to flourish in their communities as well as better access to the support they need throughout their lives.”

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