What is Autism?
Autism is a lifelong, developmental spectrum condition which affects how a person communicates and interacts with others and processes information. There is further helpful reading on the National Autistic Society website.
Autism in Suffolk
Suffolk has a population of 761,350, it is estimated there are between 7,613 – 11,419 people with Autism. There are 2,510 pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or SEN support that have an “Autistic spectrum disorder” (ASD) either as a primary or secondary need. In addition, a further 774 children under the age of 5 are in an independent education setting or home educated and not included in the school census have a medical diagnosis of ASD.
Autism and Asperger Syndrome support in Suffolk
Getting an assessment? diagnosis in Suffolk (excluding Waveney)
- 0-11 years pre-school and school age providing diagnosis. This service is provided by Suffolk Community Healthcare. Referrals are made through GPs, School Nurses, Health Visitors or allied professionals.
- 11-17 years receive assessment and diagnosis together with support offered to family carers. This service is provided by Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust.
- Adult Service (18+) receive assessment and diagnosis together with a carer needs assessment. This service is provided by Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust.
Visit NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group website for more information.
Adult and Community Services and The Care Act
Our Learning Disability and Autism teams are part of Adult and Community Services (ACS) which in turn is part of Suffolk County Council. We give information and advice, and support when it is needed, to help you manage your care needs and keep or regain your independence.
We work within the Care Act 2014 to:
- give people information and advice, letting them know about local services and activities that can help
- support people who meet national eligibility criteria for their care and support needs. This may be short or long-term assistance to get back independence or to maintain a good quality of life. Please note, customers may be charged for the cost of some or all their long-term care
- support family carers so they can continue with their caring role
- safeguard vulnerable people who are at risk of harm or abuse.
We have four area teams delivering services across Suffolk in the North, South, East and West, who use the Signs of Safety practice framework.
The teams work within a model that is called Supporting Lives, Connecting Communities as Suffolk County Council wants to support people to live independently in their communities. The team will also work with you to plan ahead so that you can stay independent. It is a 3 tier model:
- Help to help yourself
- Short term support when you need it
- Ongoing support for those who need it
They are working towards ensuring that everyone we support has an allocated worker. We have Social Workers and Independence and Wellbeing Practitioners who undertake reviews and develop care and support plans. They also handle new referrals and community work. We have a small number of Occupational Therapists working alongside the teams across the county.
If you have had a care and support assessment from us, we will tell you if you are eligible for a personal budget. A personal budget is the money allocated by us to help meet your eligible care and support needs. We help you set up a care and support plan and arrange how to manage your budget. Details on care and support plans and management options for the personal budget can be found on this website.
Suffolk County Council co-produced a plain English and Easy read document about social care reviews and the ‘customer journey’ explained.
- what to expect when working with a social work practitioner - plain English guide (PDF, 862KB)
- what to expect when working with a social work practitioner - easy to read version (PDF, 5MB)
We also have a Disabled Children and Young People’s Team support people from 0-25. Social Workers in the Disabled Children’s teams deliver the same services as 0 to 19 Children in Need Teams.
Specialist Support and Suffolk’s All-Age Autism Strategy
We have a specialist Social Work and Contracts and Service Development team who manage Transforming Care and out of county contracts, develop services for Transforming Care and also facilitate the development of the All-Age Autism Strategy as well as the revised Learning Disability Strategy.
Suffolk County Council wants to ensure that autistic people and their parents/carers who live in Suffolk are supported. To that end, a working group has been established in 2021 to take forward the brief developed via joint working with the Autism Best Practice Group to procure a contract to tender an All-Ages Autism strategy for Suffolk. This will involve co-production, market engagement with autistic people, their parents/carers to ascertain what is required from the strategy, what they want to see from the organisation(s) who secure the contract and the outcomes and development going forward. Suffolk’s Autism strategy will inform the services and support offered in the future.
As well as the National Autistic Society, other national resources include:
- The Autism Alliance: a major network of specialist autism charities in the UK
- Autism Together: one of the country’s leading providers and support to people with autism and their families
- SupportLine: a confidential telephone helpline offering emotional support to any individual on any issue.
The National Autism Strategy
In collaboration across government, with autistic people and their families, the NHS, local government, and the voluntary sector, the national strategy will be implemented starting with the actions in the implementation plan for 2021 to 2022.
Over the next 5 years, the UK Government wants to create a society that truly understands and includes autistic people in all aspects of life; one in which autistic people of all ages, backgrounds and across the country have equal opportunities to play a full part in their communities and to have better access to the services they need throughout their lives. This is the vision to make life fundamentally better for autistic people, their families and carers by 2026.