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National Autism strategy has led to the requirement for the development of local strategy.

National legislation and policy

The first ever national autism strategy, 'Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives’, published in 2010 following landmark legislation in the form of the Autism Act 2009, sought to address the inequalities in access to services and opportunities faced by people with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASCs) and the resulting poor social and health outcomes.

The national strategy set out a number of requirements for Councils and NHS bodies to work with partners to improve services and support for people on the Autism Spectrum. One of these requirements is to develop and publish a local strategy.

National strategy update

In April 2014 the Department of Health published Think Autism, Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives, the strategy for adults with autism in England: an update.

The update is a result of the review of the existing national strategy in line with the Autism Act 2009, a stock-take of the work done so far nationally through the self-assessment exercise the Department of Health asked local authorities to complete at the end of 2013 and changes across public services that need to be taken into account in the national strategy.

Think Autism build on rather than replaces the requirements and guidance of Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives. There are three key areas highlighted for particular drive and focus to deliver change:

  • Building communities that are more aware of and accessible to the needs of people with autism.
  • Promoting innovative local ideas, services and projects which can help people in their communities. This includes the launch of the time-limited Autism Innovation Fund which makes one-off grant funding available for specific projects.
  • A focus on gathering comprehensive data on local numbers and needs to inform planning and joining up advice and information on available services.

For an overview of how we are responding to the national strategy update, read our open letter in response to Think Autism(pdf, 64KB).

Local strategy and implementation

Our Joint Health and Social Care Autism Strategy(pdf, 491KB) covers children, young people and adults on the autistic spectrum. It has been prepared as a response to, but goes beyond, the requirements set out in the Autism Act 2009 and the national autism strategy which only applies to adults. It is a partnership strategy between Children's, Adults and Health services in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

We decided that the inequalities in access to all services and opportunities faced by people with autistic spectrum conditions, and the resulting poor social and health outcomes, required a holistic strategy that covers all aspects of life. Our local strategy aims to ensure people with autism are supported to realise their full potential in all stages of their lives.

The strategy concentrates on five key areas:

  1. Increasing awareness and understanding of ASC
  2. Developing a clear and consistent pathway for diagnosis
  3. Making it easier for people with ASC to get the services and support they need
  4. Helping adults with ASC into work
  5. Working with local partners to help them develop suitable services

Shaping the strategy

We consulted with a wide range of stakeholders to help shape the strategy.

More about our consultation

Implementation - get involved

We have divided managing the work set out in the strategy into four groups:

  • Training and Awareness raising, led by a member of the Workforce Development Team
  • Care pathways for ASC (including identification and diagnosis), led by someone from Public Health
  • Accessing Services (including transition), led by the Transitions Development Manager
  • Leadership and Governance, led by the Head of Learning Disability and Mental Health

All groups feed into the Autism Programme Board which keeps a strategic overview of the ongoing work, achievements and challenges.

We already have “experts by experience” (people on the autistic spectrum and carers) involved in all of these groups, but we are always keen to have more.

If you are interested in taking part and being involved in improving the lives of people with autism in the Borough, we want to hear from you.


Department of Health (DoH) asks all local authorities in England to complete a yearly Autism Self-Assessment (Autism SAF). This is to monitor progress on local autism strategies.

We asked for feedback on the latest Autism SAF in our January 2015 newslette(pdf, 506KB)r. We also asked some of our 'Experts by Experience' to check our answers once we had completed the document.

DoH will publish the answers from all local authority areas in England once they are ready.

If you would like to see our answers before this time, contact us by email at and we will send you a copy.

This self-assessment process is a yearly exercise for all local authorities in England. Visit Public Health England to view our answers from last year, or see how we do in comparison to the rest of England.

Updated: 22 December 2021

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