autismA new integrated autism service will be launched this year to improve support services for children, young people and adults in Wales.

The service, backed by £6 million from the Welsh Government over the next three years, will be rolled out across Wales by 2019. It is a key part of the Welsh Government’s refreshed Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan, which was launched earlier this week. It will be subject to a 12-week consultation.

Welsh Government published its original strategic action plan in 2008, which was the first of its kind in the UK. The refreshed Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan focuses on raising awareness of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD); ensuring information, advice and training is available to all; improving assessment, diagnosis and support for people with ASD; addressing support needs and ensuring people have access to a good education and career advice and support.

The new service will be based on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s best practice standards and will include a focus on multi-agency and multi-disciplinary working, ensuring people with autism receive joined up services and support. It will:

Bring together existing children’s autistic spectrum disorder neurodevelopmental teams within health boards to provide diagnostic, assessment and specialist interventions (therapies) for children with ASD

Develop new specialist adult teams, which will offer diagnostic provision

Develop new community support teams in health board areas, providing behavioural advice, low-level support, access to community services, support programmes and sign-posting. This service will also provide training for parents and carers across the age range

Build on existing services by developing professional capacity and enhancing skills, to improve diagnostic assessment and post-diagnostic support.

Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The refreshed Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan sets out the Welsh Government’s commitment to support children, young people and adults with ASD throughout their lives. We want to ensure their needs are understood and there is information and support available to enable them to lead fulfilling lives.  

“The new national integrated autism service for Wales will ensure people are supported to achieve their own wellbeing outcomes by receiving the right support, by the right professional, in the right place, at the right time. It will ensure there is consistency across the country, ensuring people with autism are able to access comparable services across Wales.

“The service will be rolled out to all health board areas by 2019. As we develop and roll out the service we will include people with autism, to make sure it is meeting identified needs.”

Other measures in the refreshed Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan include:

Continuing to support the ASD national lead role to provide expert advice and guidance about autism to the Welsh Government, professional groups and stakeholders

To support and develop the ASDinfowales website to provide an authoritative source of information and advice about autism in Wales

The delivery of awareness-raising and training in the priority areas identified by stakeholders, to include schools, nurses, leisure services and employers.