Cuts could hit autism services

Andrew Balchin - corporate director communities
Andrew Balchin - corporate director communities

People with autism could be missing out on the help they need as funding cuts hit plans to improve services.

A Wakefield Council report warns of gaps in the system of autism support and of people with the condition finding themselves in a crisis.

The report to yesterday’s meeting of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board said a strategy had been drawn up to raise awareness of autism, improve services and help people into jobs.

Services in the Wakefield district were generally well-developed for people with autism who also had a learning disability.

“But people with autism who don’t have a learning disability fall through service gaps and often find themselves in crisis before support is provided, or misunderstood by mainstream services,” said the report by Andrew Balchin, the council’s corporate director for adults and health.

The report said the support was often “fragmented” after people were diagnosed with the condition.

It said: “This position is not acceptable for people with a new diagnosis of autism or their family members and could mean we are failing in our statutory duties.

“A model for a fully integrated local pathway has been developed but this is not felt to be affordable in the current economic climate.”

Improvements made to the service included employment opportunities, mentoring, access to advocates for people with autism and training.

But the report said: “Given the challenging economic climate, there is very little new investment to develop services for people with autism and their families.”