Priority 1: Support autistic people and people with social, communication and emotional health needs to help themselves pre and post diagnosis

Improve early identification of characteristics linked to autism through wide ranging education and training and reduce the need for a diagnosis to access appropriate support. Provide information and advice to people with social, communication, sensory and emotional health needs in order to promote self-management, family resilience, independence and wellbeing.

Enable and empower people to develop their own solutions and networks of support in their communities through developing a better understanding of the third sector services people are using; enhancing peer support networks and facilitating information sharing.

This objective supports people with characteristics linked to autism to be able to find and use advice and information that helps them make the most of their strengths and pro-actively manage the challenges and barriers that they face. Information and advice needs to be available to everyone, regardless of their Autism diagnosis status. There is a lot of information and some useful tools and guides available, but people need to be supported to find this in one place with a way to filter the elements that will be most useful to them. The aim is to support all the services that are used by autistic people to better identify potential autism characteristics and provide useful and accessible advice and guidance. This is about supporting people with social, emotional and communication difficulties to get the information and support they need to continue to live a good life and achieve their goals without waiting until needs escalate or a person receives their diagnosis to offer support. By enhancing support options available to parents and carers through the provision of appropriate and timely information and advice, commissioning of need based parenting training programmes, development of place based peer support groups as well as improving links with local carers support services, it is envisaged that people can access support which is tailored to their needs and enables parents and carers look after their autistic family members more effectively.

I statements

  • I have the information and support I need in order to remain as independent as possible.
  • I know where to get consistent, accurate and up to date information about what is going on in my community and where to access support for autistic people and their families.
  • I can speak to people who know about care and support for autistic people and can make things happen for me or my family member.
  • I have help to make informed choices if I need and want it.
  • I don’t have to wait until I have a diagnosis or am in crisis to get the help I need.
  • The parenting support I receive is tailored to take account of my autism or my child’s autism.
  • I have a place I can call home, not just a ‘bed’ or somewhere that provides me with care.

What we will do

1.1 Spark community action to tackle isolation and loneliness, help people to self-organise and develop their own solutions. Identify existing and potential autism champions in the community and facilitate their support of others.

1.2 Promote the importance of early identification of needs related to autism to system partners: Schools, health visitors, nurseries, GP’s, mental health professionals, families and community centres; and provide information and advice about how to offer relevant support and adjustments for people with social, communication, sensory and emotional health needs.

1.3 Make useful information and tools readily available to people and families with needs related to autism, including self-management techniques relating to bullying, anxiety, sleep, social interaction, and sensory needs.

1.4 Improve the primary care support offer through working with new social prescribing and health and wellbeing roles in Primary Care Networks to develop autism awareness and networks of support, including identifying opportunities to support young adults transitioning from children’s services.

1.5 Increase the support available to people with characteristics linked to autism through the early help and enablement offer. This will maintain people in their own homes, in education and/or employment, in relationships with the people who are important to them and through transitions by connecting people with their communities and supporting them to try new social interactions and achieve their aspirations.

1.6 Deliver a mixed model of family and carer support for families and carers of autistic people to include conferences, peer support, autism specific parent training and parent coaches to harness the capacity of families and ensure the needs of autistic parents and parents and carers of autistic children are reflected in local parenting and carer strategies and offers.

1.7 Identify financial incentives for having an autism diagnosis and where possible adjust eligibility criteria to focus on need, not diagnosis.

1.8 Work with housing leads to raise awareness of autism, implement the Autism and Homelessness Toolkit, review prioritisation criteria for housing to reduce reliance on the need for an autism diagnosis to access housing and ensure autistic people have access to accommodation that meets their needs.