During 2017/18 the Learning Disability and Autism ADASS Policy Network with the support of DHSC identified the need to raise the profile of prevention when working with autistic people of all ages and their families.

With autism predicted to be 1.1% of the population (Autism Alliance 2019) we believe that there is a need to have a better understanding of the challenges that autistic people and their families face. This is important so that we can reduce the likelihood of their needs escalating, resulting in a significant impact on their health and wellbeing outcomes and the  potential costly expenditure for social care, health services and the wider system, as identified in the National Audit Office report  Supporting people with autism through adulthood (2009).

This paper highlights the policy and system opportunities. It also includes key areas identified by the autistic community as being important when applying a preventative approach, so that potential needs can be recognised and responded to earlier by social care and its partners.

A refreshed autism strategy is due to be published in autumn 2019, marking the 10th anniversary of the Autism Act. We also hope that the paper will help to inform thinking on the new strategy. 

We would like to thank Zandrea Stewart for preparing this paper on behalf of the network, and recommend it to ADASS Executive for endorsement.


Simon Leftley

Moira Wilson

Stephen Taylor 


Co-leads Learning Disability and Autism Policy Network