The Autism Act 2009 and 10 years on

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The Autism Act 2009 and 10 years on

View profile for Emma Thompson, nee Grimbly
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The Autism Act 2009 was designed to bring about changes in the way adults with autism were treated by local authorities and NHS organisations. It is the only condition-specific legislation of its type in England and although references adults, has been used in many areas to campaign for ‘All-age Autism Strategies’. We have listed below some key points but you can find the full statutory guidance here: Statutory guidance for Local Authorities and NHS organisations to support implementation of the Adult Autism Strategy

  • Improved training around autism; 2010 Statutory Guidance states all local authorities should be providing general autism awareness to all frontline staff in contact with adults with autism. Local authorities are expected to have made progress on developing and providing specialist training for those in roles that has a direct impact on and make decisions about the lives of adults with autism, including those conducting needs assessments
  • Identification and diagnosis of autism in adults, leading to assessment of needs for relevant services; each local authority should have an easily accessible autism diagnostic service
  • There are further duties on local authorities, as regards involving individuals, provision of advocacy and identification of outcomes
  • Planning in relation to the provision of services for people with autism as they move from being children to adults
  • Preventative support and safeguarding in line with the Care Act 2014; the care and support system must work to actively promote wellbeing and independence, not simply responding to crisis. The care and support system must intervene early to support individuals, help people retain or regain their skills and confidence and prevent care and support needs developing or delays deterioration in such needs wherever possible. They must also support the needs of carers
  • Supporting people with complex needs whose behaviour may challenge or who may lack capacity. The Transforming Care Programme is designed to ensure that should the right model of care for an individual be for that person to live in their own home with support to live independently, then this support should be provided. There is a greater push for parents with young adults who have complex needs, to seek guardianship for the decision-making process. We will be covering this in another article.

Autism Act: 10 years on – what next?

In 2019, the Government is reviewing the autism strategy again. There will be significant meetings of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (a cross-party group of MPs and Lords) to find out:

  • What has worked well?
  • What hasn’t worked?
  • What needs to change?

The APPGA are aiming to review the current state of care and support for autistic children and adults and to secure additional support and funding. The focus being on the following themes:

  • Public understanding of autism
  • Children’s services, education and transition
  • Health and mental health
  • Support in adulthood
  • Employment
  • Criminal Justice


Contact our experts for further advice