A new strategy to help about thousands of people in Bristol with autism has been launched for consultation by Bristol City Council and NHS Bristol.
About 4,000 in the city live with varying degrees of autism, with more than half of these also having learning difficulties.
The new strategy seeks to improve collaboration and understanding of the condition through all council and NHS services and improve access to assessment and support networks. It also intends to improve the experience for teenagers moving into adulthood and highlight the ways they need to be supported.
Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Cllr Jon Rogers, said: “Bristol has some very well established services to support adults with autism, but there is plenty of scope for improvement to deliver excellence.
“People with autism can lead fulfilling and meaningful lives, enjoy employment and all the other opportunities available in Bristol. This new strategy will help drive a new effort to improve understanding of the condition across services such as housing, leisure and employment agencies, to help people with autism meet their full potential.”
According to the National Autism Society, autism is “a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people and the world around them”.
There is no known cure for autism, and interventions which work well with one individual may not be appropriate or effective with another.
However, with the right mixture of early education, employment, housing and social support, those with the condition are able to lead fulfilling lives.
National Autistic Society Avon Branch Officer, Diana Elliott, urged support for the consultation, which will lead to the creation of an ‘Autism Board’ and the development of a three-year action plan in the autumn.
“Taking part in this consultation is a real opportunity for parents, carers and people with autism to make an impact in Bristol. By responding we have the opportunity to influence the way that children and adults with autism get access to the education, support, employment, housing and social opportunities they want and need.
“At the Avon branch of the NAS, we routinely hear about the experiences of adults with autism – this is a real chance for anyone affected to make their voice heard and influence the way people with autism will access services in the future.”
The NAS Avon Branch is holding a meeting on Tuesday, May 22 for parents and carers of adults with autism, and other meetings are planned for people with autism and for parents of children with autism. Anyone interested in attending can contact Diana Elliott by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
The strategy is published on the council website at www.bristol.gov.uk/autismstrategy