Review of autism home abuse condemns out-of-area commissioning failings : Community Care

A review into the abuse of adults with autism at a home in Somerset run by the National Autistic Society (NAS) has called for an overhaul of the monitoring of out-of-area care placements.

Mendip House, which closed in October 2016 following a highly critical inspection, was part of an NAS ‘campus’ home to adults with severe autism placed by 30 local authorities and clinical commissioning groups from across the UK.

The review by the Somerset Safeguarding Adults Board (SSAB) said Somerset County Council (SCC) “had to invest in an expensive and labour-intensive enquiry because of the lack of rigor and failures of judgement of commissioning professionals”.

“Had the National Autistic Society addressed long standing concerns and the commissioners undertaken essential reviewing and monitoring, the workload of SCC and the Enquiry Team would not have been as extensive,” it added.

The review criticised the failure of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to identify problems at the home earlier through its inspections.

It drew comparisons between Mendip House and Winterbourne View, the private hospital near Bristol where BBC Panorama exposed abuse of people with autism and learning disabilities.

It said: “There were over 30 different placement authorities across Somerset Court and although concerns were raised with SCC’s safeguarding team about other Somerset Court dwellings on at least four occasions between 2014-2016, not one identified concerns about Mendip House. Five years after the scandal of Winterbourne View Hospital this is remarkable.”


Source : Review of autism home abuse condemns out-of-area commissioning failings : Community Care

The struggle against autism discrimination – Bexhill Observer

In recent months, Jay Brewerton has been banned from the same fast food outlet twice, refused service in a cafe and asked to leave various shops, all because of her disabled six-year-old son.

Source: The struggle against autism discrimination – Bexhill Observer

National Autistic Society video shows how everyday sounds can be unbearable | Daily Mail Online

People with autism may suffer sensory sensitivity – where their sense are heightened or numbed. A video by the National Autistic Society shows what it is like to experience hypersensitive sound.

Source: National Autistic Society video shows how everyday sounds can be unbearable | Daily Mail Online

Autistic adults bullied and not supported at work, poll shows

Original post from The Independent

‘…………….By Sarah Cassidy

Valerie Carlin, 45, suffers with Asperger syndrome David Sandison
Valerie Carlin, 45, suffers with Asperger syndrome David Sandison

More than a third of adults with autism have been bullied or discriminated against at work, the largest ever survey on the condition has found.

Meanwhile, 43 per cent said they had left or lost a job because of their autism, the poll by the National Autistic Society (NAS) concluded.

The NAS said the findings highlight the lack of support for people with autism in the workplace, and the lack of awareness of the condition among employers and colleagues. The poll, released for the charity’s 50th birthday this week, found just 10 per cent of adults with autism in paid employment receive support from their employers, despite 53 per cent saying they would like it.

The charity called for employers to ensure that support is in place for employees with autism so that they “have the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to society like everyone else”.

David Perkins, manager of Prospects, the NAS’s employment service, said: “It is unacceptable in the current economic climate that some employers are failing to put reasonable support in place to keep adults with autism in work and off benefits. It needs to be nationally understood and accepted that bullying or discrimination of any kind in the workplace is deplorable, and against a colleague because of their disability it is tantamount to anti-disability abuse. We urge employers to make sure their offices have an ‘autism-friendly’ ethos; otherwise we risk failing thousands of willing and able workers.”

Almost one in three respondents (32 per cent) said the support or adjustments made by their employer or manager in relation to their autism was poor. A similar proportion (30 per cent) complained that the support or adjustments had been poor. Almost four in 10 respondents (38 per cent) reported that the suitability of the work environment in relation to their autism was poor. Fewer than one in five (19 per cent) said they had no experience of bullying, unfairness or lack of support at work.

Research has shown that children with autism are three times as likely to be bullied as other youngsters.

Last month a coroner warned that young people with autism could be being failed by health agencies after an autistic boy committed suicide after being bullied at college.

Bradford coroner Paul Marks said the death of Gareth Oates, from Stowmarket, Suffolk, could probably have been averted if it had not been for the failings of a number of mental health, social services and education agencies.

Case study: ‘People tended to exclude me’

Valerie Carlin, 45, from south-west London, has an autistic spectrum disorder and has been out of work for three years since leaving her career in finance because of bullying at work. She said: “Although I was good at the actual job, people tended to exclude me socially, to ignore me and try not to give me any work to do.

“I was diagnosed three years ago with an autistic spectrum disorder which is similar in many ways to Asperger’s. My communication problems meant, over time, I antagonised people and never realised why.”   ………’

New research into how people describe autism published

Original post from The National Autistic Society


Two autistic adults sit next to each other on a sofa facing the camera, in conversation with one another

An unprecedented piece of research into the language used by autism communities to describe autism was released today.

The research by The National Autistic Society (NAS), the Royal College of GPs and the UCL Institute of Education looked at the preferences of people on the autism spectrum, their families, friends and professionals.

The findings confirmed that there is no single term that everyone prefers. However, they suggest a shift towards more positive and assertive language, particularly among autistic communities where autism is seen as integral to the person.

Survey responses from 3,470 people were analysed, including 502 autistic adults, 2,207 parents of children and adults on the autism spectrum, 1,109 professionals, and 380 extended family members and friends.

The research found that all groups like the terms ‘on the autism spectrum’ and ‘Asperger syndrome’. Autistic adults like the identity-first terms ‘autistic’ and ‘Aspie’, whereas families didn’t like ‘Aspie’. Professionals also like the term ‘autism spectrum disorder (ASD)’.

Some terms were strongly disliked or no longer used, particularly ‘low functioning’, ‘Kanner’s autism’ and ‘classic autism’.

The language we use is important because it embodies and can therefore help change attitudes towards autism. To reflect the findings of this research, the NAS will gradually increase the use of the term ‘autistic’ – particularly when talking about and to adults in that group. We will also use ‘on the autism spectrum’ as the default way of describing people on the autism spectrum.

The research shows that language preferences are evolving, and we will continue to research and test how different groups prefer to speak about autism.

  • Read the abstract or full research paper ‘Which terms should be used to describe autism? Perspectives from the UK autism community’ in Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice.
  • Listen to a podcast of NAS Director of the Centre for Autism Carol Povey and Researcher Lorcan Kenny explaining the research.
  • Want to share your thoughts? Find us on Facebook orTwitter using the hashtag #describeautism.
  • Join our mailing lists to stay informed about our work, future research, events and other activity.  ……..

Care Act implementation going well but local authorities face increased financial risk, report says

Original post from Learning Disability Today


The implementation of the first phase of the 2014 Care Act by the Department of Health (DH) has gone well, but its cost estimates and funding mechanisms have put local authorities at increased financial risk due to uncertain levels of demand for social care, a report has found.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report found that 99% of local authorities were confident that they would able to carry out the Act reforms from April 2015.

But the NAO also warned that local authorities may not have enough resources to respond if demand for care exceeds expectations. The Care Act, which aims to reduce reliance on formal care, promote people’s independence and wellbeing and give people more control of their own care and support, will increase demand for assessments and services at a time when local authority provision has been falling and the number of people in need is rising. The NAO estimates that phase 1 of the Act will cost £2.5 billion to carry out from 2013-14 to 2019-20, more than half of which is for carers’ assessments and services – a new entitlement and the largest single cost.

The NAO says DH may have underestimated the demand for assessments and services for carers. DH based its estimate of take-up on the number receiving Carer’s Allowance, which it compared with other sources. The NAO repeated DH’s calculation concluding that it was as reasonable to assume that those carers who have applied for Carer’s Allowance and are eligible, but do not receive it because they receive other allowances, are as likely to seek an assessment. This equates to a risk of £27 million (26%) in extra assessments and services if these people also come forward.

“The first phase of the Department of Health’s new approach to adult social care has been implemented well,” said Amyas Morse, head of the NAO. “But this places new responsibilities on local authorities whose core funding is being significantly reduced. They may not have enough resources to respond if, as could be the case, demand for care exceeds expectation. This could result in their having to delay or reduce services in the short-term. This risk to value for money needs to be managed. The Department for Communities and Local Government has taken steps since November 2014 to improve its understanding of new burdens on local authorities. But it needs to use intelligence from the new burdens regime to improve its understanding of the pressures affecting authorities’ financial sustainability.”

More money for social care

In response, calls have been made for more money to be put into social care. Sarah Lambert, head of policy at the National Autistic Society (NAS), said: “While [the] NAO report says that the first phase of the Act’s implementation has gone well, it also highlights serious concerns about local authorities’ ability to meet demand at a time of tightening resources. The NAS believes that this could lead to delays in people accessing vital support and raises the prospect of the reforms failing to live up to their potential.

“All too often adults with autism miss out on vital support. NAS research indicates that 7 in 10 adults with autism aren’t getting the help they need from social services and that 1 in 3 develop severe and often avoidable mental health problems due to insufficient support.

“George Osborne has a chance to address these issues before it’s too late, as he prepares next month’s Emergency Budget. He must ensure that the DH has got its sums right and make the necessary investments so that people with autism get the care and support they need.

“Supporting the most vulnerable members of society by investing in social care isn’t just the right thing to do; evidence shows that it also saves local councils and the NHS money by giving people the care and support they need before they fall into crisis and need expensive specialist care.”

Sue Brown, vice chair of the Care & Support Alliance, also voiced concern over funding: “The Care & Support Alliance has previously warned that the Care Act reforms will prove to be ‘built on sand’ unless more funding is put into the social care system.

“Chronic underfunding of adult social care has seen dramatic year-on-year rationing of support, excluding hundreds of thousands of older and disabled people from the care they desperately need to get up, get dressed and get out of the house. This is also putting unbearable pressure on family carers. The scale of the crisis in social care funding is clear – the [Local Government Association] and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services estimate a £4.3 billion funding gap by 2020.

“The Care Act is a bold reform of the system, but the Government needs to provide adequate funding so that local authorities can actually implement the reforms. Last year, 9 out of 10 councils signalled concern that lack of funding could jeopardise vital reforms to the care system with the implementation of the Care Act 2014. Last week, ADASS found 83% of directors report there will be an impact on services over the next two years due to funding cuts.

“The Government needs to urgently address the crisis in care funding to prevent the care system from total collapse in the next decade. Anything else is a false economy.”  ………’