Improved training for front-line public sector workers is at the heart of a new UK government strategy aimed at enhancing the lives of adults with autism. The ‘Fulfilled and Rewarding Lives’ strategy is intended to improve diagnosis and access to services, and tackle social exclusion and unemployment, which currently stands at 85% for adults with autism. Under the plan, which is underpinned by the Autism Act 2009, Â£500,000 will be invested to develop training with professional bodies in health and social care, while autism awareness training will be given to all Jobcentre Plus Disability employment advisers.
There are about 400,000 adults with the condition in the country. These are split evenly between those with a learning disability, sometimes known as low-functioning, and those without one, known as high functioning. People with autism have a huge contribution to make – shutting them out deprives everyone. While children are often supported through the school system, help for adults has been much more patchy.
This autism strategy could be the foundation for change in the way our whole society treats adults with autism. Phil Hope, co-chair of the new national autism programme board said “It is unacceptable that adults with autism are not getting the support they need to live independently and find work. This strategy will start a fundamental change in public services with better awareness and understanding.”