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Health and care services need to do more to support autistic patients

31/03/2017

Bob Dowd, Centre 404 and Emma Whitby, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Islington

Bob Dowd, Centre 404 and Emma Whitby, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Islington 

Health and care services need to do more to support patients with autism. That's the key message from Healthwatch Islington's Autism report, which was published this week.

Healthwatch spoke to 60 people across the borough, via focus groups, phone interviews and online surveys. All respondents were either autistic themselves, or were parents/carers of someone with autism.

Healthwatch Islington's chief executive Emma Whitby said, 'We're really grateful to everyone who took the time to share their experiences. Now we need to work with commissioners to make sure that this feedback is taken into account. One lady told us that when her son got diagnosed with autism, she didn't get any more advice or information. She had to go home and google it. It needs to be much easier to find out what services are out there for people with autism, and how you can access them."

Many people who spoke to Healthwatch reported difficulties accessing autism-specific services (speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, clinical psychology, CAMHS etc). Other findings included:

  • Health and care providers need to be more flexible, rather than expecting autistic patients to be able to fit in.
  • Waiting rooms can be especially challenging environments. Alternative waiting areas would be really helpful, or appointments need to be offered at the end of the day or at other times when the services are less busy. In certain cases home visits could be considered.
  • There's a need for better autism awareness amongst health and care professionals, particularly regarding autistic patients' communication needs.

Healthwatch worked with Centre 404, and ALAG (Asperger London Area Group) to reach autistic patients, their families and carers.

Read the full report, How well do local health and care services support the needs of people with autism?

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