Autism: More than half of authority officials unaware of key policy

Implementing key government policy for children’s autism services is “not seen as an immediate priority” by local authorities, a survey has found.

The National Service Framework for Children includes one of the only autism-specific policy documents in existence in England, but only 35% of officials and 10% of councillors said their authority used it as a model. Almost half of officials and 70% of councillors were not even aware of it, according to the survey by the all-party parliamentary group on autism.

There was also a big difference between local authorities in recording the number of children with autism, with just over half of officials saying that they did keep count. Estimates of the number of children with autism in each authority also varied greatly, from 98 to 1275. 

The survey also revealed a lack of knowledge of the parts of the NSF that apply to children with autism, and a disparity between different geographical areas as to the effectiveness of its implementation.

Janet Dean MP, chair of the APPGA said: “The strength of the NSF is its long-term commitment, but it is vital, then, that it is not forgotten when new initiatives and targets are introduced with more urgent deadlines. Local authorities must see autism as a priority.”

The APPGA will present its findings in parliament today.

Andrew Holman blogs for Community Care about learning disability issues

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