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Department of Health

Think autism: updating the 2010 adult autism strategy

This content was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

 About the ‘Think autism’ strategy

This cross-government adult autism strategy is an essential step towards realising the government’s long term vision for transforming the lives of adults with autism and the outcomes for them.

Think Autism is an update to the 2010 autism strategy and reaffirms the importance of the 5 areas for action identified in the strategy aimed at improving the lives of adults with autism:

  1. increasing awareness and understanding of autism
  2. developing clear, consistent pathways for the diagnosis of autism
  3. improving access for adults with autism to services and support
  4. helping adults with autism into work
  5. enabling local partners to develop relevant services

Why has this update been published?

There are three reasons:

  • in line with the Autism Act, we undertook a review of the Autism Strategy in 2013/4 and are reflecting what we heard from people with autism, their families and from services
  • to reflect the progress that has been made since 2010 and the commitments that have been delivered
  • to take account of changes in public services and new organisations

During the review of the Autism Strategy in 2013, the Department of Health ran a comprehensive exercise to listen and learn about how it was working. Nearly 2000 people took part in focus groups, conferences and events. More than 1,100 people took part in an online survey. Local authorities worked with partners and local people to complete self-assessment exercises looking at the progress they were making.

From this review, 15 priority challenges for action were identified by people with autism, carers, professionals and others who work with people with autism. In particular, Think Autism has a new focus on building communities that are more aware of and accessible to the needs of people with autism, on promoting innovative local ideas, service or projects that can help people in their communities and on how advice and information on services can be better joined up for people.

Next steps

Think Autism sets out a clear programme which the Department of Health and other Government Departments will be taking to improve the lives of people with autism, primarily through taking actions that will support local authorities, the NHS, other public services and their local partners.

There is also a package of funding of £4.5 million which we will be using to promote innovation, create better autism aware communities, to support better joined up information and the use of technology.

Autism should not be seen as an add on to services or work programmes, and with over 500,000 people on the autism spectrum in England, everyday services will already be seeing or in contact with many people who have autism.  By thinking about and engaging with people who have autism more effectively, by making reasonable adjustments or adaptations and by involving them and building their capabilities, there will be better outcomes for them and a better use of public resources.

The Department of Health intends to publish new statutory guidance later in 2014 following a public consultation exercise, to support the updated strategy.