This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Autism Act 2009, writes Sir Kevin Barron MP
The Act placed requirements on ministers to publish an autism strategy and provided statutory guidance for local authorities and local health bodies on supporting the needs of people with autism.
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 get the right support.
I am concerned that too many people wait too long for a diagnosis.
National targets set out a maximum three-month period between referral and a first diagnostic appointment.
Yet research from the National Autistic Society (NAS) has found that people are waiting years for an autism diagnosis.
Indeed, in one local authority waiting times stood at 125 weeks.
I pay tribute to the NAS and all involved in the campaign to end delays in diagnosis and I am pleased that last April, NHS England began collecting data on autism diagnosis waiting times.
I hope this will allow the Government to identify gaps in treatment and support.
Last December, ministers launched a review of services and support for autistic children and adults.
In the meantime, I will press the Government to do more to promote awareness and improve understanding of autism.
I am committed to making our country autism-friendly and ensure that autistic people can access the services and support they need.