The Scottish Parliament's Cross-Party Group on Autism has published its findings and recommendations in 'The Accountability Gap'.
The CPG on Autism (CPG) is co-convened by Annie Wells MSP and Alexander Burnett MSP, and has a large membership comprised of MSPs, autistic people, families, organisations and professionals from across Scotland. The group meets regularly to explore issues faced by autistic people and families.
Supported by National Autistic Society Scotland and Scottish Autism, who provide Joint-Secretariat to the CPG, a survey carried out as part of the review found that:
- 72% of respondents said they did not have enough support to meet their needs
- 78% of respondents said that it was not easy accessing support locally
- 50% felt that autism awareness among the general public had not improved
- 69% said that with more support they would feel less isolated
- 36% said they received no support within 12 months of receiving a diagnosis
In 2011, the Scottish Government and COSLA published a 10-year Scottish Strategy for Autism (this link will take you away from our website) that set out priorities and aimed to deliver strategic action for autistic people and their families in Scotland.
The CPG on Autism undertook its review from May 2019 to January 2020 and heard first-hand the difficulties faced by autistic people and their families in Scotland. It found widespread recognition that the national strategy set out a welcome vision and was well-intentioned, however the majority of people who participated said there had been limited impact for many people in a number of areas including diagnosis and post-diagnostic support, as well as support in education, care and employment. It also highlighted how a lack of accountability at local level is leaving autistic people and families fighting, often with little success, to get the support they need.
The review makes 10 recommendations that aim to help improve the lives of autistic people that the Scottish Government and COSLA should consider when the Strategy comes to the end of its lifespan in 2021. These include:
- Solving the accountability gap by establishing a new Commissioner role, whose remit includes ensuing that autistic people and families get the support they need.
- Developing a new Scottish Strategy for Autism that is co-created between autistic people, families, charities, COSLA and the Government, is appropriately funded and delivers real sustainable change.
To find out more and read the review report, visit – https://www.autism.org.uk/what-we-do/news/scotland-cross-party-group-on-autism-report (this link will take you away from our website).