Autism is a complex condition which affects many people in very different ways.
Recently great progress has been made in improving our understanding of autism. However, I believe there is much more work to be done, and I am pleased to see that there are efforts being made across Government and throughout society to support those with autism. I am pleased to say that my ministerial colleagues are continuing to build on the advances made since the establishment of the Autism Act in 2009.
I welcome the recent announcement that the National Autism Strategy, first established in 2010, will be reviewed, and was consulted on earlier this year. My colleagues in the Department of Health and Social Care requested that autistic people of all ages, their families, their carers, and organisations and professionals that provide care and support to autistic people or work with autistic people submit evidence – you can find more information by following the link below:
The evidence provided is currently being analysed.
Separately, a consultation was held around the training and development of staff and the need to better support people with autism. I welcome that, as a result of this consultation, mandatory training is to be implemented for health and care staff to ensure that that those who provide care have the knowledge, skills ,and behaviours to support people with learning disabilities and autistic people.
This being said, we do need to go even further. We also need to look at other settings which may be challenging, and put in measures to address them. Supermarkets, for example, can be particularly stressful for those with autism, and increased awareness and training here would go a long way to ensuring that people living with autism feel as comfortable as possible with every day activities.
For schools, funding has been provided for organisations such as the Autism Educational Trust, who have delivered autism training to more than 239,000 staff since 2011. The support available to newly qualified teachers will be enhanced to equip them will the skills to support pupils with special educational needs.
I am proud of the Government’s track record on this issue, and that it is implementing significant measures to support people with autism.