Far reaching package of improvements approved to services for children with autism

Published: Friday, June 28, 2019

Councillors have given their backing to a package of proposals to significantly enhance the support provided to families affected by autism (ASD).

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The plans were drawn up as a result of wide-ranging discussions and formal consultation with parents, teachers and educational professionals who have welcomed these proposed changes.

The aim is to provide a better, wide-ranging and more seamless service to families affected by autism.
Accordingly there will be more comprehensive whole family support from the initial point of concern through to post diagnostic support. Additional resources will be put into post-diagnosis care and support for children and their families.

A multi-professional team will be created including psychologists and therapists working alongside advisory teachers providing support in both educational settings and to families.

The changes will bring together two existing services - one that caters for the under-five’s and another for older children - into one single integrated service.

This will ensure better communication links between staff teams, allow better longer-term planning for children to ensure their needs are met as they grow – while also reducing the risk of children being becoming “lost in the system” while transferring from one arm of the service to another.

It would also ensure a better availability of services all year round – as current services are closely aligned with schools which means that provision can be less effective during school holidays.

Overall the proposals are designed to achieve the following:

  • enable effective multi-disciplinary planning and delivery of services for children and families throughout the entire process from emerging needs to post diagnostic support.
  • provide parents with a single point of access particularly in times of need/crisis.
  • enable the service to provide a timely response when issues are escalating.
  • ensure there is a graduated response in the support available to children and their families including “ad hoc” support when families might consider there is greatest need as well as planned support through parent / carer training and specific types of intervention.
  • keep an overview of all children with ASD and better track their progress and more closely review their outcomes.
  • ensure there is a larger team with a better range of specialist support available, effective joint working of professionals and multi-agency triaging.
  • ensure appropriate post-diagnostic follow up takes place

These proposed changes are designed to tailor these specialist services to better meet a growing demand from local families.

The number of children diagnosed with ASD has grown significantly in recent years. In 2010 the number of children in Wandsworth with a diagnosis was 495. This year the number has climbed to 1,205.

Children’s services spokesman Cllr Will Sweet said: “These improvements in how services are delivered have been drawn up following extensive and detailed conversations with parents, teachers, NHS staff and others with expertise in this field as we seek to enhance the services we provide to children with ASD and their families.

“The current service has two aspects - one that supports the under- fives and another that cares for older children. We think it makes sense to combine the two so that it offers a more seamless and unified service with better communication between teams, better availability all year round - especially during school holidays – and better longer-term planning of how these crucial services are provided.”