Caudwell Children CEO Trudi Beswick at the Caudwell International Children's Centre in Staffordshire, the UK's first autism-friendly, purpose built centre.
A new autism strategy for England has been published today – setting out how the Government will support autistic people between now and 2026.   This new strategy sets out several new commitments that could have a positive impact on the lives of autistic people across England.   You can read the full strategy, and the commitments within it, here  At Caudwell Children we’re particularly encouraged by the fact that the Government has committed £75 million to the first year of the strategy.   It is welcome that the latest strategy has specific pledges that will support autistic children and includes the following commitments:  
  • a pledge to improve public understanding of autism, working with autistic people to do so – at Caudwell Children, we’ve championed neurodiversity at all levels of public life, from working with local authorities through to speaking at the United Nations.    
  • £10.5 million to test and implement the most effective ways to reduce diagnosis waiting times for children and young people – at Caudwell Children we have developed an innovative Autism Service, and we’re working with NHS Trusts and local authorities to drive down autism assessment waiting times in the UK. 
  • providing funding for autism training and professional development in schools and colleges in 2021 to 2022 to improve understanding of autism among education professionals – at Caudwell Children we work with education professionals pre- and post-diagnosis to ensure children get the appropriate support in both mainstream and specialist education. 
  • promoting pathways to employment, such as Supported Internships, Traineeships and apprenticeships – at Caudwell Children our Digital Skills and Employability Programme supports autistic people to find employment, support and training.  

Our Chief Executive, Trudi Beswick, has responded to the publication of the new autism strategy: 

“The Government’s new autism strategy sets out a positive, inclusive plan and is very welcome after the challenges of the last 18 months.  “It’s encouraging that £75 million has been earmarked for 2021-22. That financial commitment must continue beyond the Government’s next spending review.   “At Caudwell Children we’re already delivering some of the commitments in this strategy and are dedicated to continuing to deliver cost effective, innovative services that change societal issues for disabled children, young adults and their families.  “From working with NHS Trusts and local authorities to reduce assessment waiting times, to delivering an autism employment programme, and offering post-diagnostic support to children and their families.  “As a result, we know how much of a difference this strategy could make to level-up opportunity across the country and truly build back better post-pandemic.  “We’re cautiously optimistic that the Government’s proposals will help more autistic people get the support and recognition they deserve.   “But the strategy must not falter once the money for 2021-22 has been spent, or because its implementation differs from one local authority to the next.  “We’ll continue to support and champion autistic children and their families to ensure the strategy is delivering for them.”  

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