The government has reached a “long-awaited milestone” by launching a consultation on its first national adult autism strategy for England, say campaigners.
Care services minister Phil Hope met five adults with autism to hear their views as he launched the consultation on 29 April.
Issues raised at the meeting will be lodged as the first responses to the consultation, which will last for 20 weeks and end on 15 September.
Those responding to the consultation will be asked for their views on five main themes: health; social inclusion; choice and control; awareness raising and training; and access to training and employment.
The National Autistic Society (NAS) said the launch was a “long-awaited milestone” and adults with autism now had “an unprecedented opportunity to have their say in a strategy which could make a real difference”.
Anya Ustaszewski, who has autism and is vice chair of the strategy’s external reference group, said: “A lack of support and discrimination can leave people on the autistic spectrum isolated, and vulnerable.
“I believe in the saying ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’. Therefore, I would strongly encourage all people on the autistic spectrum to use this consultation to tell the government what you need to feel happy, safe, accepted and to give you equal and fair access to choice and opportunities in your life.”
The NAS said the government committed to taking action after its I Exist campaign found at least one in three adults with autism were experiencing serious mental health difficulties due to a lack of support.
Hope said: “The people I’ve met have strong opinions on what changes will make a difference to their day-to-day lives.
“With their responses to the consultation, and the views of people from across the country, we can make sure that the national strategy we’ll publish at the end of the year really delivers where it counts.”
To find out how to take part in the consultation, visit www.autism.org.uk/dhstrategy