Agenda item

Consultation on the draft Autism (Wales)




To scrutinise the proposals contained in the Draft Autism (Wales) Bill with a view to informing the Council’s response.


Key Issues:


In broad terms the Autism (Wales) Bill seeks to:


·          Require the Welsh Government to publish a strategy for meeting the needs of children and adults in Wales.


·          Require the Welsh Government to issue statutory guidance to underpin the strategy.


·          Ensure a clear and consistent pathway to diagnosis of autism spectrum conditions in every local area across Wales.


·          Ensure that local authorities and health boards understand and take necessary action so that children and adults with autism spectrum conditions get the timely support they need (this might include, for example, putting duties on local authorities and health boards about the organisation of support for people with autism and their families, in their local areas).


·          Establish practices, including the possible creation of a register, to enable the collection of reliable and relevant data on the numbers and needs of children and adults with autism spectrum conditions so that responsible local bodies can plan accordingly.


·          Ensure that local authorities and health boards publish information on the services they provide for people with autism spectrum conditions in their areas.


·          Regularly review the strategy and statutory guidance to ensure progress.


·           Raise public awareness and understanding of the needs of children and adults with autism.

Member Scrutiny:


·         Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) should appear in the draft Autism (Wales) Bill as it is a wide ranging medical condition.


·         ASD should not refer to other neurological conditions as there is such a wide spectrum that needs to be defined as autistic spectrum. 


·         There are clear needs for all professional agencies to become involved. The Public Service Board will play a key role in developing joint agency working amongst key partners.


·         It is important that parents receive a diagnosis as soon as possible and have the relevant support mechanisms established.


·         Over time, inter agency collaboration should become normal practise.


·         The need to raise awareness of ASD is key.  Continuous support should be provided for families, the community and for the professional support being provided.


·         There is a need for common data in order to have a national common support system.


·         It was noted that ASD is often accompanied by co-morbid conditions and therefore often has to allow for those disorders to also be addressed.


·         Tourette’s Syndrome should be included as it can sometimes be accompanied with ASD.


·         Timescales for diagnosis in South East Wales have the ISCAN procedures which should be helping to improve timescales.


·         This is a draft Bill for consultation.  There will be a re-drafting of the Bill after the consultation period has ended taking on board comments received across Wales.


·         ASD parent support groups exist but these need to receive proper support in order to help parents that have received an ASD diagnosis for their children.


·         An ASD diagnosis might change as the child grows.  This needs to be recognised with appropriate support being provided.


·         Only two schools in Monmouthshire have completed an Autism Awareness training.


·         A question was raised regarding whether resources will be made available to local authorities, in the form of a financial package, following implementation of the Bill.


·         A Select Committee Member considered that there was no need for this legislation at this time because Welsh Government has made significant strides to strengthen public service provision for people with autism and their families and had developed an ASD strategic action plan in 2008.  That has been reviewed and there is now the establishment of the All Age National Integrated Autism Service which has received increased investment in terms of national and local structures and in terms of raising awareness and the profile of the condition, as well as developing improved services.


Two significant pieces of legislation have been introduced in the last two years, namely, The Social Services and Well-being Act and The Well-being of future Generations Act.  


Welsh Government has already stated that it will produce statutory guidance regarding Autism under the Social Services and Well-being Act during this Welsh Assembly term.


Regional Partnership Boards have been established.  Autism has been identified as one of the priority areas for integration and Boards will need to report annually on progress.


·         There is a need to have access to Welsh language services.


·         In response to a question raised regarding the facilities in Monmouthshire for severely autistic children, it was noted that officers would investigate this matter and inform the Select Committee via email.


·         Appropriate support is required to help autistic people to live independently.


·          The Bill has a short consultation period with responses being sought by 17th April 2018.



Committee’s Conclusion:


  • When a full response has been collated the final version will be sent to both Select Committees to view before it is presented to the Cabinet Member for Individual Cabinet Member Decision.




Supporting documents: