1. “I want to be accepted as who I am within my local community. I want people and organisations in my community to have opportunities to raise their awareness and acceptance of autism”
Many local services provide support for people with autism which is vital for helping them to be part of their local communities. But whilst we need to continue to strengthen statutory services, we also need to look beyond this important work, to spread autism awareness to a wider range of people. As a society, we need to think autism.
There are examples from around the country of local businesses and services that have made adjustments so that people with autism can access their community in the same way as anyone else.
Autism friendly screenings
Dimensions offer Autism Friendly Screenings at over 250 cinemas in partnership with Cineworld, ODEON, Showcase and Vue cinemas. Every month, each participating cinema shows a different film from a selection of new releases and classics. They make the screenings autism friendly by simple adjustments like having the lights on low, the volume turned down and allowing people to bring their own food and drinks. Some gyms and swimming pools offer special sessions for people with autism and a small number of theatres have started putting on autism friendly performances.
During 2014/15 we will launch a new community based ‘Think Autism’ awareness and champions programme. The aim is for people with autism, parents/carers and autism workers to be supported to increase awareness and understanding of autism in their local areas, working in partnership with other local community groups, services and businesses. Local groups will come together to identify the key local priorities and action needed to increase awareness of autism in their communities.
DH with colleagues across Government, will also work with third sector organisations to support them to develop a voluntary award or pledge for public and private organisations which have demonstrated their commitment to becoming more autism aware. Local people could help identify and work with key organisations and groups in their community; or organisations could work towards it directly themselves.
We will also identify and bring together a network of champions from different sectors to act as catalysts for change. We will issue further information on the autism awareness and champions programme by the end of June 2014, including how organisations and groups could tender to help provide co-ordination for this work. (Action 5)