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The Kent Autistic Trust invites local Councillors to autism awareness training

The Parliamentary Review article by George Salmon

Following our article focusing on Dame Cheryl Gillan's efforts to establish the first ever autism training session for MPs, The Kent Autistic Trust have furthered this campaign by inviting 45 local councillors to a series of autism training sessions. CEO Christine Edwards explains.

Following the establishment of the first ever autism training session for MPs in April this year by Dame Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham and Amersham, The Kent Autistic Trust is extending Dame Cheryl’s message by facilitating awareness training for councillors in Medway and Kent during 2019.

As part of our 30 years celebration, and our campaign activities as part of the Autism Alliance, we would like to facilitate autism awareness training to political leaders and key decision makers. Knowledge, information and understanding is crucial to ensure that support and frontline services are effective, appropriate and sustainable.

One in every 100 people is autistic – 1.1 per cent of the population – which is a conservative figure given that many more are not diagnosed. The population of Medway stands at just over 277,000 which means that more than 2,770 people on the autistic spectrum live in the area and quite a few constituents will be on the spectrum or will care for someone on the spectrum.

The Kent Autistic Trust is a member of the Autism Alliance and as part of those activities, we have conducted research and interviews with autistic people and their families/carers. They have told us about their experiences with local authority care needs assessments. At the same time, we asked local authorities across the country about how they carry out assessments for autistic people, to see if they are complying with the legal duties laid out in the Autism Act of 2009 and the Care Act of 2014. Our findings conclude that there is a sometimes a gap in knowledge resulting in inadequate assessments and poor outcomes.

Under the Autism and Care Acts, autistic people have the right to an autism-specific needs assessment. Local authorities must provide specially trained assessors to assess their needs. This is where we want to help.

Our autism specialists will provide two awareness sessions for Councillors with more sessions following for care managers, needs assessors and commissioners during 2019 so that assessments for autistic people are improved and their needs are properly assessed. Autism awareness training is crucial to improve the outcomes of a significant population who are often misunderstood and undervalued.

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