#ItStartsWithYou WCA highlights support needed for people with autism

Many people had told us that about difficulties people were having getting support for residents with autism in Wandsworth. So we decided to launch a survey to investigate the support available and the support needs for people with autism in Wandsworth.

We spoke to the commissioner at Wandsworth council who was in the process of writing a strategy for support services for people with autism and was working with a newly formed Autism Board. We asked what might be changing to services and wanted to know what topics were important for local people to share their views and experiences about.

We took the survey to local people at events and circulated the survey online to ask them what they thought about current support and additional support they might need.People told us:

  • Awareness needs to be raised within services and amongst professionals and across, as well as across the wider community: a) So that they can better understand better the needs of autistic people. b) To improve communication and interaction, especially amongst people who help people with autism to access other services, such as social workers and GPs.
  • They wanted support with managing housing arrangements including finances and keeping safe, and more information about support available.
  • There should be more opportunities for interaction and activities in the community. Our findings suggested that living in independent living facilities did not necessarily prevent isolation. + Many wanted support with employment – they highlighted challenges with transport and geographic location as well as finding suitable types of work.

We discussed our findings with decision makers at the local NHS and the council. The council commissioner and the Autism Board told us that the report was insightful, giving evidence for themes they had only been ‘tacitly’ aware of and challenging some assumptions. We will be following progress of the Autism Strategy to see how services develop according to our recommendations.

A commissioner in the local NHS contacted us to say that the findings would help them initiate a review of the ‘pathways’ of support for people with autism. Our main concern was that parents and carers were supported through the process and given tools to help them manage. We were invited to talk about our report in an initial meeting of people who provided various NHS services for people with autism and we provided suggestions on further engagement with parents. Support is being redesigned with parent and carer engagement and there are plans to expand support for parents.

‘The local authority are now designing the type of support patients with Autistic Spectrum Disorder have requested, based on your survey. Wandsworth CCG have allocated funds for its implementation’. Dr Tom Coffey, Wandsworth CCG GP Children's Lead

Our survey was anonymous, but thank you to all who took time to share your views and experiences to raise awareness of support needs of people with autism in the community.

Do you or someone you care for have a Learning Disability?  Do you want to share your experiences of health or social care to make improvements to the care people receive? Get in touch with our Learning Disability Network

Don't have a learning Disability but still want to share your experiences of health or social care to make improvements to the care people receive? Get in touch with Healthwatch