UK Launches Autism Consultation

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Five people with Autism Spectrum Conditions will meet with Care Services Minister Phil Hope to respond in person to a consultation on Autism which launches today.

The meeting will appear online on the National Autistic Society website, You Tube and the new Department of Health consultation webpage . The issues raised will be formally submitted as the first responses to the consultation, which asks for opinions on what should be in the Government's National Autism Strategy to be published later this year.

The consultation will run for 20 weeks and seeks views from people with autism, their families, their carers and those involved in delivering services, to make sure that the final strategy makes a real difference on the ground.

People responding to the consultation will be asked for their views on five key themes. They are:

* Health
* Social Inclusion
* Choice and Control
* Awareness raising and training for staff
* Access to training and employment

As well as writing and e-mailing their views, people can respond to the consultation by:

* filling in a questionnaire that can be completed online or on paper and by individuals or groups;

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* taking part in a locally organised stakeholder discussion event - a consultation pack can be downloaded from the Department of Health website;

* taking part in a regional discussion event; or

* logging on to the discussion forum

Ministers have already committed to issuing statutory guidance to ensure the final strategy has teeth and is put into practice at a local level.

Phil Hope said: "People with Autistic Spectrum Conditions should have the same rights and freedom to enjoy life as everyone else.

"I want as many people as possible to respond to the consultation and let us know about their experiences, in their communities.

"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."

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of The National Autistic Society and chair of the strategy's External Reference Group, said:

"After months of campaigning, the Government have given adults with autism an unprecedented opportunity to have their say in a strategy which could make a real difference. It is important that as many people affected by autism as possible take part to help shape the final strategy and the action that is needed at a local and national level. Without the right support autism can have a profound and sometimes devastating effect, so I urge the Government to reaffirm their commitment to giving the strategy the legal force, which is absolutely necessary to deliver real change."

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