Moves to set up all-Wales autism network

ADULTS with autism in Gwent are set to benefit in the near future from work to set up an all-Wales approach to assessment, diagnosis and post-diagnosis support.

Gwent health chiefs are working with colleagues across Wales to set up a unified system, to try to ensure the same quality of care across the country.

The move is among a range of initiatives being worked on as part of the ongoing Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan for Wales, launched 18 months ago with £4.5 million of Assembly funding.

The aim is to have an all-Wales system up and running by the end of next March, building on a range of other autistic spectrum disorder-related (ASD) projects.

All local authority areas now have an ASD action plan with contact points for families and professionals.

Awareness raising packages will be launched in the autumn for a wide range of professional groups working with, or coming into contact with, people with autism and their families, to be distributed to GP surgeries, schools, colleges, careers and job centres, employers, and public bodies.

The Wales plan is a 10-year project, the first in the world, and Gwenda Thomas, Assembly deputy minister for social services, said “significant strides” have already been made in boosting services for people with an autistic spectrum disorder and their families.

“We have come a very long way in a very short period of time. We have placed people with autism and their families at the core of our strategy,” she said.

“I would like to acknowledge the courage, commitment, enthusiasm and skill of people with autism, their families, and those who support them in Wales today.”