Consultation on new strategy to support people with autism in Northants

The county council is consulting on the strategy
The county council is consulting on the strategy

A new strategy about how people with autism in Northamptonshire are supported has been drawn up.

The county council is currently consulting on the strategy which is a redesign of the current service and people have until October 5 to have their say on the proposals.

The strategy is a joint initiative between the county council, the Corby and Nene clinical commissioning groups and the Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

It looks at all aspects from diagnosis to support, planning for people’s future needs, transitions between stages of life, education, accommodation and employment.

Training for staff  across different agencies so that autism is better understood is also part of the plan.

The report was written by Northamptonshire County Council’s former head of children’s services Lesley Haggar and its director of adult social care Anna Earnshaw and despite being introduced during a tough financial climate is aiming to give a personalised approach to services.  

It says: “The strategy has been developed against a backdrop of financial constraints and organisational change across the public sector.

“Everyone involved in co-producing the strategy recognises the need for a personalised approach to ensure support is formed around the person, thereby enabling them to take control and make real choices about how they lead their lives.

“The outcomes identified within the document will need to be achieved within existing resources, either by maintaining current services or redesigning provision.

“This presents a challenge for all involved and requires a shift away from traditional ways of thinking towards innovation in terms of new approaches; this approach is crucial if we are to develop a truly responsive service to meet the needs of Northamptonshire’s autistic residents.”

Autism is not defined as an illness or disease.

The report says: “Autism is characterized by unique social interactions, non-standard ways of learning, keen interests in specific subjects, inclination to routines, challenges in typical communications and particular ways of processing sensory information.”

It is estimated that 9,530 people in the county have autism.

The autistic spectrum includes attention deficit disorder, aspergers and obsessive compulsive disorder.

The strategy has been welcomed by Jenny Mould, founder of Autism Children Embraced (ACE) a northamptonshire charity that helps those who have autism, their families and carers.

Jenny and other members of the group have fed into the strategy.

She said: “I hugely welcome this new strategy as it has long been needed.

“It is about getting clear pathways to diagnosis and then help as this has been a problem in the past.

“At the moment people come to our group and have a diagnosis for their child and then don’t know where to go from there.

“This strategy will hopefully make it much easier for people and I just hope that it is followed through.

“There is a lot of focus on autism at the moment which is great.”

The strategy concludes that if successful the strategy will mean that  staff who work with autistic people have more knowledge, that Autism Champions will be created to work within services, and that less people with autism reach crisis point and hospital admission.

People can visit the NCC website to take part in the consultation.