National Autism Strategy – a step-change in accountability All Local Authority self-assessments published online today People with autism can access them, review and respond Thursday 14 January 2016 PDF Print New interactive mapping tool added to UK’s first online social media network for people with autism. The Department of Health, Public Health England and Autism West Midlands today launch a new online interactive mapping tool which allows the autism community to review and rate local progress on the implementation of the National Autism Strategy. ➢ Each Local Authority in England has to assess and report on how it is meeting – or failing to meet – the requirements of the National Autism Strategy ➢ These self-assessments are published online today on Autism Connect – the UK’s first online social media network for people with autism, developed by Autism West Midlands with government funding (www.autism-connect.org.uk) ➢ As well as publishing the detailed self-assessments, Autism Connect allows users of the site to comment on the self-assessments; to give their experiences of local provision, and to read comments by others. Autism West Midlands Chief Executive, Jonathan Shephard, comments: “This is a 21st-Century way of empowering people with autism. It means they can access and comment on progress and strategy in their area. It brings Local Government face to face with its users, in a mutually beneficial way. The self-assessments are also a rich source of data for researchers.” Find the new interactive tool here: https://autism-connect.org.uk/users/myarea ENDS For more information please contact Catherine Klein at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 0121 450 7582 extension 193. Out of hours, call 07881109506. Notes to editors You can view the new interactive tool here: https://autism-connect.org.uk/users/myarea About Autism Connect • Autism Connect is the UK’s first free social media network. • It was developed by Autism West Midlands with funding from the Department for Education. After a successful pilot scheme in the West Midlands, the Department of Health funded the national roll out of the social media platform. • People with autism can have difficulty with communication, social understanding and anxiety. This can mean that autistic people may struggle with building and maintaining friendships and relationships. Autism Connect provides a safe, online environment that empowers people by allowing them to interact in a low-risk way. • Users can build a profile, connect with like-minded people across the UK, ask and answer questions, share their experiences and ideas. • Autism Connect includes features such as: a Service Directory, a Question and Answer Page as well as an Events/Calendar. • The newest feature is the ‘My Area” page, an interactive mapping tool that allows the autism community to review and rate the progress of their Local Authority with implementing the national autism strategy. About Autism • Autism is a life-long condition affecting around 1.1% of the population. It affects all races, classes and intellectual abilities. It is a spectrum condition meaning that it affects people differently and to varying degrees. • Everyone with autism is different. Whilst some people with autism lead independent lives, some need lifelong care. Others will need some degree of support, which will change over the course of their lifetime. • Autism is not a learning disability – about half of all people with autism have average or above-average intelligence – or a mental illness. However, one in three people with autism develop mental health difficulties due to the challenge of adapting to society with inadequate support. • People with autism often also have issues with sensory processing. They can either be over- or under-sensitive to any of their senses (sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste, balance and awareness of self in space). • There is no cure for autism but early diagnosis and specialist support can greatly improve the quality of life of people with autism. • Autism is a hidden condition, meaning that it is often difficult to tell that someone has autism. Lack of autism awareness can lead to misunderstandings about the reasons that a person with autism may behave in a certain way. This can sometimes increase anxiety and depression in people with autism. Increasing autism awareness is key to ensuring that people with autism receive the right support and understanding throughout life. About Autism West Midlands • Autism West Midlands is the leading charity in the West Midlands for people with autism. The charity uses its passion and expertise to enrich the lives of people with autism and those who love and care for them. Their passionate, expert staff and volunteers work across all age groups and abilities to provide direct support to people with by autism, their families and carers. • Autism West Midlands supports people with autism to live as independently as possible, in residential care, or in their own or the family home. The charity provide activities, events and support for families, and an information helpline. They help people with autism to find and keep a job and offer training for parents of children with autism, and for the professionals who help them. Download official Press Release here: http://www.autismwestmidlands.org.uk/upload/pdf_files/145276... interactive mapping tool on Autism Connect.pdf This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Autism West Midlands in the following categories: Health, Media & Marketing, Public Sector, Third Sector & Legal, for more information visit http://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.