People with autism are waiting too long for the practical help and services they need
I am the parent of a 22 year old son with Aspergers Syndrome, a life long condition on the autistic continuum. Despite doing well academically, albeit with full time classroom support, he has been out of full time education for years now and still has no real prospect of being able earn his living.
His support network disappeared when he left sixth form and he has suffered from depression and other health issues which have left him isolated and lacking in motivation to make something of his life.
Earlier this month singer Susan Boyle revealed that she has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. For Susan, finally getting a diagnosis later in life was a great source of relief and provided an explanation for years of feeling ‘different’. Susan’s story has caught the public’s attention and got people talking about autism and the effect that it has on people’s lives. That’s great!
Although perhaps not so important for Susan, following her great international success, there should be practical benefits to receiving a formal diagnosis of autism. It should, in theory, ensure access to local services that can provide the help and support needed to cope with this lifelong condition.
People with autism were promised help and support by the Autism Act 2009, England’s first disability specific piece of legislation. Although there has been improvement in the four years since the Act in providing people with autism with what they need, progress has been patchy and many of the some 460,000 adults with autism across England are still waiting for the services they so urgently need every day.
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We now need the Government to take notice of the fact that too many people are still waiting for the support they need. That’s why I am supporting the National Autistic Society’s Push for Action campaign (www.autism.org.uk/push). We need to work together to put the needs of needs of adults with autism front and centre.
No one with autism should wait for a diagnosis OR, once they have that diagnosis, for the support they need. We have a chance to make a huge difference to lives across our area and it must not go to waste.
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