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Mental health 2019 - Partner Profile - The National Autistic Taskforce

Who are The National Autistic Taskforce?

The National Autistic Taskforce is a not-for-profit organisation, wholly run and managed by autistic people and is funded through an open grant from The Shirley Foundation. The National Autistic Taskforce was established in January 2018 to give autistic adults a stronger voice in the decisions and directions of our own lives – especially those with highest support needs and, often, least autonomy. We draw on deep knowledge of rights and obligations, already enshrined in law but not reliably respected in practice, to increase autonomy in autistic lives. We seek to ensure autistic voices are included alongside those of families, policy makers and professionals. We seek to draw on the collective knowledge and experience of autistic adults to inform and improve care and support, especially for autistic adults whose own voices are rarely heard.

How has The National Autistic Taskforce improved people’s mental health in the UK?

We have run online focus groups and contributed to the ongoing reviews of the Mental Health Acts in both England and Scotland. We are represented on the Steering group currently developing the Core Capabilities framework for supporting autistic people (led by Skills for Health in partnership with Skills for Care). NAT has also set out a model of care for autistic people, including those who experience mental health issues, which seeks to promote positive mental health and improve outcomes (see below).

What has been your greatest achievement to date? And were there any measurable outcomes that accompanied this achievement?

In April 2019, the National Autistic Taskforce published 'An independent guide to quality care for autistic people' (available free from: nationalautistictaskforce.org.uk). This vital new guide sets out, for the first time, an independent view of what constitutes good, quality care and support for autistic people. This guide is authored entirely by autistic people with extensive collective knowledge and experience of social care provision to autistic people. We are independent and are not care providers or commissioners. The guide is relevant and applicable to the whole autism spectrum and to both children and adults. We explicitly include autistic people with and without learning disabilities; those considered to have complex needs; those who do and don’t use speech to communicate; those considered to display “challenging behaviour”; those with dual and additional diagnoses of all kinds; those with and without ‘forensic’ history. The guide covers all care settings and seeks to empower those who commission or provide care and support to autistic people and those who inspect such services across the UK to identify and promote high quality care and support for autistic people. The guide is also of interest to autistic people, families and friends and to policy makers as an aid in identifying high quality services.

It is not yet possible to measure outcomes from the guide, but it has received an enthusiatic reception from across the health and care sector including from policy makers, health and social care staff (particularly those with commissioning responsibilities) and care providers.

Is there anything you would like to make delegates aware of ahead of the Mental Health 2019 conference on 26th September?

“What does good care look like for autistic people? This question has never been more pressing. This report clearly demonstrates the need to listen to autistic voices in determining how care can be improved. We know from Autistica’s ongoing work with autistic people and families that improving care is a top priority. By combining the autistic perspective with high quality evidence, we can make real progress in supporting people to live the long, happy, healthy lives they deserve.”

Dr James Cusack, director of science, Autistica.

If you would like to learn more about NAT please visit https://nationalautistictaskforce.org.uk/

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