Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Social services support for adults with autism still lacking, says NAS

NASToo many adults with autism are still not receiving the support they require from social services, and there remains a lack of understanding of the condition among social workers, according to research by the National Autistic Society (NAS).
A survey of 1100 people by the NAS found that four years on from the introduction of the Autism Act, which was intended to improve local support for adults with autism and their families, too many are still waiting for the support that they need.

Relying on others for support
The NAS found 70% of adults with autism aren’t getting the help they need from social services. 77% said that as a result, they were relying on parents for support, with 22% relying on friends. And 7% don’t get help from anyone.
In addition, the survey found that:
• 36% of people with autism said they need help to wash and dress. But only 7% get this support from social services
• 77% say they need help to manage money, but only 4% get this support
• 53% want help to find work, but only 10% get the support to do so.

‘Push for Action’
The NAS survey also revealed that only 23% said that the social workers they’d come into contact with had a good understanding of the condition.

Separate NAS research also found that 46% of local authorities in England have yet to put training in place to ensure that their community care assessors, the gatekeepers to support for adults with autism, understand the serious, lifelong disabling condition.

This year, the Government is reviewing the impact of the Autism Act and the NAS has launched its ‘Push for Action’ campaign to ensure that local and national decision makers continue to prioritise the needs of adults with autism.

The charity is calling on local authorities and the NHS to ensure that they are meeting their duties that resulted from the Autism Act, assessing the needs of local adults with autism and providing them with appropriate support.

Addressing barriers to improving local support
They are also urging the Government to take action to ensure that the barriers to improving local support are addressed, providing new funding, better guidance and improved monitoring.

Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said: “Adults with autism have been waiting a long time to get the everyday support that they need. We’ve seen great strides forward in some parts of the country since 2009, but progress has been too slow and too patchy.

“Our Push for Action campaign calls on decision makers from Whitehall to town halls, to make adults with autism a priority again so that support is put in place for all who need it. The Government’s Autism Act review gives people with autism a second chance to be heard – we need to make it count.”

Perfect opportunity to improve standards

Minister for Care and Support Norman Lamb said: “Our forthcoming review of the Autism Act will give us the perfect opportunity to ensure that, locally and nationally, the government is continuing to improve standards for adults with autism.

“We need to have a better understanding of local progress, and research such as that conducted by the National Autistic Society will help us to get a clear picture of how well each local area is improving standards and where more needs to be done.”

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