Building tomorrow, together

Future50 Appeal | Our charity’s autism story
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Our charity’s autism story


Everyone’s autism story is different.


We’re all aware of the great success stories of famous people on the spectrum like Daryl Hannah and Dan Aykroyd. The problem is that so many other stories are playing out behind closed doors with no audience. This is where Autism Together comes in.


No-one could cope with Mary’s son. He was aggressive and destructive and was passed from pillar to post before he found a peaceful, lifelong home with us.


No-one would listen to Steph, even when she was covered in bruises and bites and was begging for help. Her daughter, driven to such behaviour by the anxiety so often associated with autism, now lives very happily in one of our supported living properties.


And then there’s Louise, who has so bravely stepped into the limelight to feature in our film. Her dearly-loved son Austin, once obsessive and self-harming, now thrives in his calm, autism-friendly environment.


These families have all found Autism Together and because our teams are absolute experts in autism, we’ve known how to help. But think of the thousands of others right now whose pleas for help are being ignored by a system geared up to provide ‘generalist’ support, suitable perhaps for those with learning disabilities, but not, adamantly, not, for those with the most acute forms of autism.


Nothing exemplifies the ‘turn the other cheek’ attitude from officialdom like the state of our assessment and treatment units (ATUs) in England.  Despite government promises to close up to 50% of them by this month, many remain open.


ATUs were intended for people with autism and learning disabilities in times of crisis. Instead, because many staff do not have the necessary skills to work with people with acute autism, they have become little more than holding pens for difficult people.


Vulnerable sons and daughters are being held, sometimes for years, in environments where their very particular needs are not being met, so they are never able to improve. It’s an unacceptable limbo.


We believe that a new generation of assessment service should offer highly skilled treatment to people in crisis, in state-of-the-art, autism-friendly environments. Vitally, discharge plans should be agreed at the point of entry. Stays should not exceed six months. Expert care plans should give each individual the opportunity to grow and flourish in a way that makes sense for them.


At Autism Together we’re making this vision a reality. Our Future 50 appeal is raising funds to build a unique autism centre where people in need will be helped, not held.  You’ll find more information about our ambitious plans here.


We’re here to change the future of autism care, nothing less. That’s our autism story.


By Robin Bush, CEO of Autism Together

The state of ATUs

Assuring Transformation statistics for end of December 2018 reported by NHS Digital.