- Tuesday, 18 September 2012
59% of adults with autism over 45 who responded to a National Autistic Society (NAS) survey said they don’t have enough support to meet their needs.
71% of those over 45 said they have never had their needs assessed as adults, despite the fact that a diagnosis of autism should act as a trigger for an assessment by social services. This means that their needs have not been recognised, let alone met.
There is a growing concern that adults with autism who reach middle or old age are not receiving adequate help from their local authority. All issues that routinely affect people as they get older such as social isolation, health care, housing, and financial support, also affect people with autism and support in these areas needs to be tailored accordingly to meet individuals’ needs.
As we celebrate our 50th Birthday, the NAS is conducting research into autism and ageing in order to improve awareness and understanding of the issues older adults face and thus enabling local authorities and social services to deliver quality support.
Carol Povey, Director of the Centre for Autism at the NAS said: “For too long there has been a tendency to view autism as a condition solely affecting children despite it being a lifelong condition, which affects as many adults as children. The NAS has seen a dramatic increase in people in their 40s, 50s and even older being diagnosed for the first time, in line with an increased public awareness of autism. This means that a large group of adults have been, and are being, overlooked by the Government and health services.”
The NAS asks that local authorities and health services take the following steps to ensure they are providing adequate support for ageing adults:
- Ageing adults with autism must have their needs assessed more regularly to ensure they have the right support to meet their changing needs.
- When developing local plans on services needed for adults with autism in line with the Autism Act 2009, age appropriate services must be included.
- Local authorities must proactively seek out parents and siblings who are carers to adults with autism and ensure they undergo a carer’s assessment and are aware of their rights and entitlements.
Freddie, an elderly adult with autism said: “I'm 70 now, and wasn't diagnosed with Asperger syndrome until I was 67. I was not offered any assessment of my needs and the local authority and health service have never been in contact with me about my Asperger syndrome, so I don’t know whether I should get support to meet my needs.
“A year after my diagnosis, when I raised the question of isolation and loneliness associated with Asperger syndrome, my GP suggested I contact the nearest autism group, which I've done, but it is 170 miles away - rather a long way to go! I don’t think he understands my needs as a person with Asperger syndrome at all.”
For more information on the NAS’s Autism in Maturity project please visit www.autism.org.uk/maturity
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