We welcome the National Strategy for autistic children, young people and adults as an all-age approach to improving understanding of autism and to supporting autistic people more effectively.

The expectation that local authorities and the NHS work effectively together to implement the key priorities of the strategy is reinforced and this is helpful.

The national initiative to improve public awareness of autism is welcomed and we hope the government will actively involve autistic people in the design and delivery of the awareness campaign, building on local and national work associated with the Oliver McGowan pilot that Inclusion Gloucestershire has been part of with local partners.

We particularly welcome the priority and resource committed to improved diagnostic and post diagnostic pathways, and near term post diagnostic support and the commitment to reducing waiting times as we know this is a priority for many Gloucestershire residents.

The recognition, commitment and additional resources identified to prevent autistic people from experiencing mental health crisis is also welcomed and we hope that this commitment will be embedded within Gloucestershire’s approach to Community Mental Health Transformation programme.

The recognition of the health inequalities experienced by autistic people is well overdue and the commitment to review deaths of autistic people in a similar way to the reviews of those with learning disabilities is a positive step forward.

Commitments to enable people to have the right local support and prevent hospital admissions along with the reinforced commitment to support people leaving hospital is essential as we know that inpatient provision for autistic people is not an effective approach.

The enhanced training offer to those in education to better understand and support autistic children and young people will, we hope lead to a more inclusive educational experience. Support at the time of transition to adulthood has been identified locally as an area for development and we appreciate the recognition of this difficult time within the strategy.

Commitments made within the strategy to improve access and increase the numbers of internships, apprenticeships and employment opportunities are welcome, as discrimination in employment opportunities still features too highly in our society.

The disproportionate representation of autistic people within criminal justice system is acknowledged within this strategy and it is reassuring to see some of the areas where work will be progressed in this area.

We are pleased that neurodiversity is being referred to as part of the strategy, however this is a first step and we encourage the continued widening of this. There are no strategies in place for beyond the autistic community, and continued movement towards a more encompassing strategy involving the different neurodiverse communities and issues is to be encouraged.

We are concerned that there are not specific commitments in relation to access to social care support for those who are autistic and we urge the government to fully consider this crucial aspect of support in their social care reforms. For this Strategy to achieve real change it is essential that funding is committed to it beyond 2022 with continued investment beyond the first year.