A new waiting time target, an improved diagnostic pathway and a better integrated service for adults and children with autism was announced today.
The 26-week waiting time target from referral to first appointment for children with autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions is a key element of the Welsh Government’s refreshed Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Strategic Action Plan.
The plan also focuses on improving assessment and diagnosis services; meeting people’s support needs; raising awareness of ASD and ensuring information and training is available to all.A new, single, Wales-wide assessment pathway for children will also be introduced to ensure consistency and make the system much clearer for families.
The key actions in the plan will be delivered through a new all-age national integrated autism service, which is being rolled out across Wales. Backed by £6m of Welsh Government investment over three years, this innovative service will address gaps in support identified by people with autism, their families and carers.
Wales is the only part of the UK to establish an all-age, integrated autism service. It will provide new adult diagnostic services; support for families and carers; help with transition from children to adult provision and training for professionals.
The Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan also outlines actions to:
- Transform the education support for children and young people with ASD – an Additional Learning Needs and Educational Tribunal (Wales) Bill is expected to be introduced next month;
- Improve employment opportunities for people with autism;
- The Welsh Government will become an autism-friendly employer by participating in the Positive About Working with Autism Programme;
- The Welsh Government will also work with organisations across Wales to raise awareness and for them to become autism-friendly working environments. This will include promoting the Positive About Working with Autism Programme;
- Develop an implementation advisory group to monitor progress and delivery of the plan. This group will be set up before 1 April 2017;
- Raise awareness of the high-quality information and resources available on the ASDinfowales website.
“People with autism and their families face challenges on a daily basis. This is why it is crucial that we ensure the support services they need are in place when, and where, they are needed.
“This refreshed Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan responds to the priorities identified by people affected by autism. It clearly sets out our ambition to ensure public services work together to deliver quality, timely and consistent services, and our plans to continue to raise awareness of autism.
“These measures, including the new waiting time target for assessment, combined with changes already underway through the National Integrated Autism Service and Social Services and Well-being Act, will greatly improve the support available to people affected by autism in Wales.“However, we are not being complacent. The implementation advisory group I am setting up will rigorously monitor and report on progress. We will take swift action to address any gaps in provision.”