LONDON, June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The Department of Health's Specialist Advisor for Autism, Elaine Hill, has publicly urged practitioners, service users, their families and the general public to submit their views and case studies to the Government's consultation on a National Autism Strategy at a national conference on the mental health needs of people with ASC that took place in London on Wednesday 17th June 2009 sponsored by autism care services provider Brookdale Care.

One in 100 of the population of the UK has an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC), yet there still remains minimal awareness of the condition, poor access to diagnosis and gaps in service provision. Such shortfalls were identified most recently in a report published by the National Audit Office, entitled 'Supporting people with autism through adulthood,' which concluded that more resources need to be invested to improve planning, commissioning and delivery of services for those with ASC. Similar recommendations have also been made in the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism's report into transitions to adulthood for young people on the autism spectrum.

The appointment of Elaine Hill in October 2008 was warmly welcomed by Brookdale Care as a major step towards ensuring that autism receives the national leadership that it needs. Since joining the Department of Health, Elaine Hill has already made great strides in her role - issuing good practice guidance for commissioners in April this year and launching a public consultation to feed a National Autism Strategy.

Elaine Hill said today: The Government's National Autism Strategy is now well into its consultation phase and I urge as many people as possible to contribute to the debate and share their first-hand experiences because they will help to shape policy.

Events such as these are so important because they allow practitioners, service users and Government officials the opportunity to interact and discuss policy, practice and existing provision. Through such debate we can together agree upon common goals and plan how we might achieve them - making a huge difference to the lives of the many people living with autism in the UK.

Lesa Walton, Care Development Director of Brookdale Care said today: Brookdale Care is calling for more action to be taken to address shortfalls in the diagnosis and care of people with ASC. A National Autism Strategy is a great first step and we urge other service providers, practitioners, service users and their families to get involved in the Government's consultation and have their say.

Brookdale Care wants to see more collaboration between those working in the sector and the sharing of good practice and success stories. The conference achieved this very aim and hearing Elaine speak on the Department of Health's plans and the opportunities ahead for all concerned was really helpful.

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