Welsh Conservatives pledge Autism Bill as part of proposed legislative programme
An Autism Bill for Wales would form part of the legislative programme for a Welsh Conservative Government.
The announcement came as Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies AM, and Shadow Communities Minister Mark Isherwood AM, visited the Wrexham branch of the National Autistic Society.
In England, an Autism Act became the first piece of disability-specific law some seven years ago; however such legislative provisions do not exist in Wales.
A distinct piece of legislation would ensure people with autism have additional support; and will improve understanding of the condition and prioritise timely diagnosis through statutory means. It should also place an emphasis on post-diagnostic support.
The condition impacts upon approximately 1 in 100 people in Wales.
Shadow Communities Minister Mark Isherwood AM, who chairs the Cross Party Group on Autism, said:
"An Autism Act would play a pivotal role in ensuring people with this condition are confident that they will receive the support they need.
"Too many feel there is a lack of necessary professional awareness of autism across Wales.
"By ensuring Councils and Health Boards are required to take necessary action to offer support; and by placing a focus on improving understanding of this condition, Wales can lead the way in providing effective, consistent services for those affected by autism."
Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies AM added:
"Approximately 30,000 people in Wales have autism, and the lives of over 130,000 in Wales are touched by the condition every single day.
"However, there is a lack of statutory identity for autism in Wales.
"Only 15 per cent of people with autism are in full-time work; and it is clear there needs to be more support for those on the autism spectrum, and their families in Wales. I will lead a Government that would ensure that."
Meleri Thomas, External Affairs Manager National Autistic Society Cymru said: “The National Autistic Society Cymru has been campaigning for the introduction of an Autism Act for Wales over the last year. In the lead up to the elections in May we have been seeking cross party support for an Autism Act. We therefore welcome the commitment to an Autism Act for Wales by the Welsh Conservatives today and call on all parties in Wales to work together to make this happen.
“We believe that autistic people and their families in Wales should be given the opportunities to meet their potential in the same way as everybody else. Our latest survey results show that nearly 90 per cent of those who responded said that specific autism legislation is needed in Wales. Autism legislation already exists in England and Northern Ireland.”