A pioneering social work team for adults with Asperger’s syndrome has been saved from the chop following a campaign led by local service users.
Nottinghamshire council has dropped budget-saving plans to scrap the team – the first social care team for adults with Asperger’s in the country – following fears that specialist knowledge would be lost as a result.
The idea was part of a proposed reorganisation of care management services for younger disabled adults designed to save £1.2m a year.
While the council intends to proceed with the reorganisation, it will exclude the Asperger’s team from this.
“It has been clear from the feedback that we have received from families who have benefited from the Asperger’s team’s work that there is a risk that we could lose valuable specialist knowledge by disbanding it,” said the council’s adult social care and health committee chair, Muriel Weisz.
Local user-led organisation Autistic Nottingham spearheaded a campaign to save the team, with support from the National Autistic Society. This included encouraging people to email councillors to oppose the proposal and contacting one of the county’s MPs, shadow equalities minister Gloria De Piero, to raise concerns.
“This is a great result for people with Asperger’s in Nottinghamshire and by extension elsewhere, as it is essential that people with autistic conditions receive appropriate care and help everywhere in the country,” said Matthew McVeagh, of Autistic Nottingham. “In general services for autistic people are growing so it would have been a backwards step if the Notts county team, nationally considered a flagship scheme and example of best practice, had been ended. We now look forward to continuing to work with the team to improve the lives of adults with Asperger’s in Nottinghamshire.”
The National Autistic Society’s policy and participation officer for central England, Tom Purser, said the council’s decision would come as a “tremendous relief to the many people who contacted the NAS to express their concern about the proposal”.
The team supports about 10% of the population of Nottinghamshire with Asperger’s and is also been a source of advice for other councils setting up specialist teams.