At the core of the strategy is creating an autism-friendly society in Kent for the estimated 13,431 people in the county who live with the condition.
Local authorities are required to develop their own local plan as set out in the National Autism Strategy ‘Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives’.
Graham Gibbens, KCC Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “It is estimated that autism affects about 1.1% of the population and it can have a significant impact on every aspect of their lives and the lives of those close to them.
“We are committed to improving diagnosis, assessment and support for those with the condition as well as increasing understanding in the community so we can all support people with autism to live fulfilling and rewarding lives.
“We value the views of people in Kent and we are inviting you to have your say in helping us to shape a strategy which makes Kent truly autism friendly.”
As well as a statutory and moral obligation to do more to support people with autism, there is also a financial imperative. A study by the London School of Economics estimates autism costs the UK economy £32bn a year in treatment, lost earnings, care and support, which compares to much less for other conditions such as £12bn for cancer and £8bn for heart disease.
More than half of people with autism also have a learning disability and often have other conditions such as ADHD, epilepsy, dyslexia and mental health issues.
Autism often results in challenging behaviours which impact on their lives and that of their carers. It can mean they can become isolated because they struggle to maintain relationships, they can find it hard to hold down a job, face an increased risk of homelessness and potentially face criminalisation in a criminal justice system which does not meet their needs.
The vision for this strategy is that people living with autism in the county will have better outcomes and Kent will be closer to having communities that understand, accept and support people with autism.
To have your say on the Strategy for Adults with Autism in Kent, visit www.kent.gov.uk/autismstrategy
Kent County Council 20 September 2016