Current outcomes and life chances for children and young people on the autism spectrum are simply not good enough and the networks of care and support on offer must be improved, the Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenag, has argued.
The government plans to launch a review of its autism strategy with a commitment to extend it to cover children as well as adults.
The review will look at transforming outcomes for autistic children by ensuring they get the right support in their communities and joining up health, care and education services to address autistic children’s needs holistically.
It will also play a part in ensuring that diagnostic services are developed to improve earlier diagnosis of autism in line with clinical guidance and improving the transition between children and adult services.
As part of this review, the government will collect evidence from autistic children and adults, families, carers and professionals on how to improve services and support.
For the first time, the government’s strategy for improving the lives of autistic adults will then be extended to cover children as well.
Supporting people on the autism spectrum or with learning disabilities is one of the four clinical priority areas in the NHS’s long-term plan, backed by an additional £20.5bn of funding a year by 2024.
The review will inform the launch of the new joint adults and children strategy in autumn 2019.
Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Care, said: “I want to see young people on the autism spectrum given the same start in life as any other child.
“Currently, outcomes simply aren’t good enough, with too many autistic children falling through the cracks and not getting the care and support they need.
“With the right support, they can live happy, healthy and independent lives within their own communities so it’s vital we have a national autism strategy that works for both children and adults.”
Nadhim Zahawi, Children and Families Minister, said: “Our ambitions for children with autism are exactly the same as for all other children – to do well in school and college, find sustained employment and live happy and fulfilled lives.
“Schools and colleges already do a great job at supporting children with autism but we know there is more to do to make sure these young people are given the opportunity to unlock their full potential and succeed.
“This pivotal review will help to find out how we can further our understanding of all forms of autism, improve how children and adults are supported and transform the life outcomes for people with autism.”