I am delighted to be launching this consultation process for the first government strategy to support adults with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC) to live life as full and equal citizens. I am grateful for the contribution that has been made by members of the external reference group chaired by Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, and including individuals with ASC, parents and carers of adults with ASC, representatives of organisations which support people with ASC, health and social care professionals, employers and those with experience of supporting people with ASC to find and keep a job, as well as education professionals.
This consultation is central to the overall programme of work that the Government is taking forward, and the development of the final strategy at the end of the year will pull together the range of outcomes that I have committed to delivering Ė better support for commissioners and other professionals working with, and supporting, adults with ASC; research into prevalence and transition; and clear links with other areas of work across government that impact on adults with an ASC. I also remain committed to ensuring that the final strategy has the necessary power behind it to ensure change is delivered.
Adults with an ASC, and their families, face a great many barriers both in their everyday lives and in accessing the services and support that they need. Their condition is often overlooked or misunderstood by professionals and by society - we know that people with ASC can struggle to access health and social care services; we know that very few adults with an ASC are successfully employed in long-term, meaningful jobs; we know that adults with an ASC find it difficult to access community services such as transport and housing; we know that this and many other things must change for adults with an ASC.
I have seen and heard of many examples where adults with an ASC are failing to get the right support. However, I have also seen and heard of examples where, with the right advice, support and engagement, there has been a complete transformation in a personís quality of life and well-being. Personalised support is not just about health and social care; itís also about identifying all the things that a person may want or need to live their live to the full. That is why this consultation is looking beyond health and social care to employment, education and social inclusion.
This consultation seeks to achieve a better understanding of what the challenges are and what can be done to make change happen.
We have deliberately structured the debate around five core themes to ensure we hear your views on specific outcomes about what needs to change and how. I want the adult ASC strategy to be a co-production between government and people whose lives are affected by ASC, either professionally or personally, every day.
Phil Hope MP
Minister of State for Care Services