Ambitious about Autism are expanding their strategic goals to broaden the support on offer for autistic children and young people.
Initially, the charity was founded to offer autistic children and young people support with their education, but now, it has developed four more key areas of focus, including: health and wellbeing, employment, citizenships, and family and relationships.
Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of the charity, explains: “In developing this strategy we’ve listened to autistic children and young people, parents and carers, our staff and supporters. These conversations reinforced what we, and others in our sector already know. The last eighteen months have been extremely hard for many autistic children, young people and their families.
“We see the unnecessary barriers facing autistic young people, the opportunities out of reach, and the consequences of being pushed to the margins. A perfect storm of the pandemic, economic uncertainty, reduced resources and an ongoing lack of understanding of autism means the next three years are critical.”
Campaigning for better support during and after diagnosis
With this, the charity will be opening new specialist schools and colleges; the first of which is a new, free school, set to open in Kingston upon Thames.
Ambitious about Autism also plan to work with educators and employers to develop better careers education and work experience opportunities for young autistic people.
The charity says it will also campaign for better support during and after diagnosis; equal access to diagnosis for all young people across gender, ethnicity and background; and improved waiting times. As part of this campaign, it will be piloting a support service for young people who have recently been diagnosed with autism.
“We stand with autistic children and young people to push for bold change”
“We should all be astounded and furious at the status quo facing autistic children – that 56% of parents say their autistic child has been ‘unofficially’ excluded from school at some point; that fewer than 22% of autistic people are in full or part time employment, the lowest of all disabled groups; and that the average life expectancy for an autistic person is just 54 years. This simply isn’t good enough. We stand with autistic children and young people to push for bold change.
“Our new strategy is as much about shifting society so it works better for autistic young people as it is about the provision of support. The movement for change has already begun but it’s not nearly fast enough. Small changes, acceptance and understanding, the right support at the right time, that’s all we ask,” said Lasota.
To find out more about the support on offer, please visit the Ambitious about Autism website.