This country needs to get more autism-friendly

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

Much more needs to be done to raise awareness and improve understanding of autism, writes Sir Kevin Barron.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Autism Act, passed under the last Labour Government.

The strategy focused on increasing awareness and understanding of autism, developing a clear pathway for diagnosis and personalised needs assessments and helping autistic people into work.

Securing an early diagnosis is fundamental to ensuring that people with autism and their families can access the right support.

However, many people with autism face long waits for a diagnosis.

I pay tribute to the National Autistic Society and all involved in the campaign to end delays in diagnosis and I am pleased that, from April 2018, NHS England began collecting data on autism diagnosis waiting times for the first time.

I hope this will allow ministers to identify gaps in treatment and support and act on these findings.

READ MORE: Worksop autism charity gets more than £250,000 from lottery grant.

In December 2018, the Government launched a review of services and support for autistic people.

It will collect evidence from autistic people, their families, carers and professionals on how to improve services and support.

A related consultation closed in May and I will follow its outcome closely.

In the meantime, I will press the Government to do more to promote awareness and improve understanding of autism.

I am committed to making this country autism-friendly and ensuring autistic people can access the services and support they need.

This must include the right to a specialised care plan and condition-management education.