Autism (Wales) Bill – consultation response

In 2018 we responded to the Welsh Government’s draft Bill for Autism. We welcome calls for increased resource to support children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and improve outcomes for children with ASD. However, we are concerned about the possible unintended consequences of this proposed legislation.

The purpose of the Autism (Wales) Bill is to ensure the needs of children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Wales are met, and to protect and promote their rights. Information on the draft Bill and consultation is available online. The Bill has since been rejected.

Our response

  • We welcome calls for increased resource to support children with ASD and their families. We welcome opportunities to explore changes to improve outcomes for children and young people with ASD or being referred into neurodevelopmental (ND) disorder pathways.
  • We are concerned that the proposed legislation will not meet the needs of children with ASD in Wales and about the possible unintended consequences of the proposed legislation. Concerns are partially based on the experiences from other parts of the UK and include:
    • the potential for increased numbers of children and young people being inappropriately diagnosed with ASD
    • adopting an approach that is not child-centred because it is based on diagnosis rather than need
    • risk to the provision of community paediatric services if demand increases without resource.

Our recommendations

  • The Committee should consider the impact and need for evaluation of the following areas of work ahead of legislation: The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, The Together for Children and Young People Programme, The National Integrated Autism Service, The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018.
  • Investment and resources would be required into the associated services to meet additional requirements, particularly in community paediatrics.
  • Whether a person has a formal diagnosis or has identified needs but not a formal diagnosis, a timely multiagency commitment must be established to ensure that these children and their carers have their concerns addressed and support initiated.
  • Further discussion and agreement is required to define what is meant by ND in the context of this legislation, as there is considerable variation among professionals and families in their use and understanding of this term.

We respond to a wide range of consultations to ensure that the College’s position, and ultimately children’s health, is represented. Members can get involved in current consultations by contacting the Health Policy team: