Public urged to view autism differently

31 March 2019, 07:01 | Updated: 31 March 2019, 07:16


A new awareness campaign encouraging people to view autism as a development difference rather than a disorder has been announced.

The Scottish Government is working with the charity Inspiring Scotland on the campaign to publicise autism as a different way of thinking rather than a condition that can be cured.

The campaign will also highlight the strengths of people with autism ahead of World Autism Awareness Week which starts on Monday.

The government also announced the national autism implementation team will work with Queen Margaret University to improve diagnosis and care for children and adults with autism and other neurodevelopmental issues, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Further steps include the government working with Scottish Autism to improve support for newly-diagnosed autistic people and their families and moves to update the autism resource available to schools.

Mental health minister Clare Haughey said: "We want Scotland to be an inclusive society in which everyone can play a full role and we are absolutely committed to changing attitudes and to showing the positive contributions that people with autism can make.

"These next steps will build on the work and progress we have made since the Scottish Government published the first Scottish Strategy for Autism in 2011.

"We want everyone to receive the support they need to reach their full potential, in the most suitable environment with a range of provisions in place to ensure this is the case."

Celia Tennant, Inspiring Scotland chief executive, said: "These steps aim to increase society's understanding of autism, to move away from stereotypes and to make clear the many strengths autistic people bring to society.

"We are proud to be a partner in this programme and look forward to working with autistic people, charities and organisations to create change for autistic people in Scotland."

Dr Alison Rennie, who sits on the Scottish Government's children and young people's mental health taskforce, praised moves towards an assessment based more on needs and less on diagnosis.

She said: "There are exciting proposals for a different service for children and young people which will include a broad-based assessment of needs, identification of appropriate strategies and services, and less focus on diagnosis.

"A key aim will be prevention of future mental health issues and promotion of the positive contribution of neurodiversity in our society."