2015 Election – our soapbox: Asperger’s and Autism servicesPosted on 2nd April 2015 by Jo Ivens
It’s Autism Awareness Day today and, in the second of my series about what we want to see local and national politicians talking about during and after the election, we recommend that Brighton & Hove create an Autism & Asperger’s Department.
Number 2: close gaps in services for Autism and Asperger’s
Through our ASpire service we work with adults with Asperger’s, who as a group tend to fall through a series of gaps in terms of statutory services. We see many clients a year who do not qualify for Adult Social Care support but who nonetheless have significant support needs, or will develop them. Shockingly 65% of people with Asperger’s will develop a mental health condition (source), after which they will be eligible for support from adult social care, but not only is prevention better than a cure, it can also be much cheaper.
Through ASpire we provide volunteer mentors to adults with Asperger’s, offer Advocacy support, social groups, training and supported volunteering opportunities, all of which help people recover from mental health disorders, or help prevent them developing one in the first place. This and work by other organisations supporting those with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are part of work that is almost exclusively funded by charitable trusts and donations, and which enables our clients to live more independent, healthy, safe and fulfilling lives. Autism is the most costly medical condition in the UK (source) in fact costing more than Cancer, Heart Disease, and Stroke combined, but smarter ways of working can help bring those costs down and help people have a better life.
Our ASpire Service Manager co-chairs the Autism Stakeholder group which involves individuals with ASD and organisations that work with them in the development of ASD services in the City. The group has been a really positive way of bringing together people that are committed to making a difference for people on the autism spectrum in Brighton, and the progress it has helped to make shows the impact of focusing the skills and efforts of diverse teams.
What we want to see:
The creation of an Asperger’s/Autism team across Adult Social Care and Health to ensure that limited resources to support this very expensive long term condition can be pooled, maximised and put where they are most needed. Statutory services should take advantage of voluntary and community sector leadership on this issue and use a pooled budget plus fresh ideas from our sector to lead the way in thinking differently about Asperger’s and autism support.