How well does Argyll and Bute look after people with autism?

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It was in September 2018 that Autism Argyll decided to end its 18-year existence, slamming the council as it did so for consistently failing to support its cause.

Yet at an Argyll and Bute Council meeting in September 2019, Councillor Anne Horn once again aimed criticism at the authority for a lack of action on autism.

So, what has changed in the year since Autism Argyll wound up?

The primary factor in the support group closing its doors was, said its members, a long-term lack of support from Argyll and Bute Council.

Speaking at the time, Autism Argyll chairperson Alison Leask claimed the council’s autism strategy and implementation plan were largely ignored by the authority.

She added: ‘At senior manager level, Argyll and Bute Council has rejected our knowledge, rebuffed our experiences, frustrated our efforts, sapped our enthusiasm, drained our goodwill and defeated us.’

Addressing policy lead for health and social care Councillor Kieron Green, during the council meeting on September 26, Councillor Horn expressed disappointment at a lack of information on the autism strategy.

‘The [council’s] Autism Strategy Group was to finalise and sign off the strategy in December 2018 but it was not completed,’ said Councillor Horne.

She continued: ‘Autism Argyll folded almost a year ago and since their expertise had been so helpful in compiling the original strategy it is confusing why a former member of that group was not asked to contribute to the new guidance.’

Councillor Green said in response: ‘Argyll and Bute Council approved the autism strategy in 2014 and the Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) now has overall responsibility for advancing this.

He added that the council was working with housing providers to ‘repatriate individuals with autism who are currently placed outside the area, where appropriate’.

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute HSCP has confirmed the HSCP recruited an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnostic practitioner, who started their role in February 2019.

Councillor Green concluded: ‘For our young people with autism, co-ordination between the HSCP Children’s and Families Service and Argyll and Bute Council Education allows for the best possible support as they grow and develop.’