The [UK] National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today published its Quality Standard on autism setting out what good services for children and adults with autism should look like.
Local councils and the NHS will now need to look at whether services are meeting relevant areas of this standard. This should mean the specific needs of people with autism are taken in to account in the design of services. The standard can also be used by people with autism and their parents/carers as information about what high-quality care or services should include.
The need for a Quality Standard was a key recommendation of our You Need to Know campaign for improving child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) for children with autism.
The Quality Standard sets eight measures to assess the quality care for people with autism, which include:
- diagnosis should happen within three months of referral to an autism team
- whilst being diagnosed, people must be assessed for comorbid mental or physical health issues
- those with a diagnosis should have a personalised plan, developed between the individual, parents/carers and the local autism team
- everyone with autism should have a key worker to support delivery of the personalised plan
- People with autism should not be prescribed medication to address core features of autism
- those who develop behaviour that challenges should be assessed for possible triggers, including physical health conditions, mental health problems and environmental factors
- people with autism and behaviour that challenges should not be offered antipsychotic medication for the behaviour unless it is being considered because other interventions are insufficient or cannot be delivered because of the severity of the behaviour.
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of The National Autistic Society, said:
- "With the right support at the right time, people with autism can live rewarding and fulfilling lives which is why we campaigned hard to secure this Quality Standard.
- "The first step to getting the right support is having timely access to diagnosis so speeding up the process will have a significant impact on the lives of thousands of people with autism in England, many of whom have waited or are waiting, to obtain this critical milestone.
- "The Standard recognises that people with autism can also have mental or physical health issues. Professionals need to understand that all of a person’s issues need to be looked at when providing support and so services should rightly be judged on their ability to do just that.
- "This Standard will also allow for services to be measured on how they respond and treat challenging behaviour and makes it clear that people with autism should not be prescribed medication to address the core features of the condition.
- "People with autism have campaigned long and hard for their needs to be addressed when professionals are designing support and services: measuring progress against this Standard will help to ensure that this happens.”
The Quality Standard can be downloaded from the NICE website.