Agenda item

Autism Strategy and Pathway Update

To provide an update on the delivery of Rotherham’s All Age Autism Strategy and Implementation Plan 2020 -2023, waiting times for diagnosis, the post-diagnostic offer and to consider the local position in light of the publication of the National Autism Plan 


Consideration was given to a presentation in respect of progress on delivering Rotherham’s All Age Autism Strategy and Implementation Plan 2020-2023. The Presentation included an overview of several further areas including waiting times for diagnosis across Rotherham’s All Age Neurodevelopmental Pathway, Rotherham’s post-diagnostic offer, and the review of Rotherham’s Autism Strategy considering the publication of the National Autism Plan. The presentation went on to address the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery timeline. The presentation also outlined the vision for the strategy which included several objectives and desired outcomes.


In discussion, a representative from Speak Up requested further information about efforts being made in mainstream schools to make these a better and more friendly environment for autistic students. In discussion, officers summarised areas of burgeoning work in partnership with the special educational needs service within the local authority to be used alongside a graduated response – providing the tools and the clear expectation to make the school experience much more friendly. Further, a description was provided around developing additional dedicated specialist space and resource provision within schools. A further, detailed answer was offered outside the meeting.


A representative from Speak Up expressed interest in receiving an easy-to-understand version of the visualisations and flow charts. The representative of Speak Up also requested further information around annual enhanced health checks for autistic people. The response from officers affirmed that this was in the works awaiting national guidance, and when it comes out it will be implemented. Following the NHS long term plan, if someone is experiencing distress, we also offer clinical treatment reviews (CTRs) which are available to autistic people.


The co-opted Member from Speak Up also requested clarification around the event to be held at Gulliver’s around support for training for employment. The response from officers clarified the intention of the event and the role of RIDO, as part of the action statement around preparation for adulthood with autistic young people, so that they are considering getting ready for employment, which should be something they are encouraged to think about from when they enter education.


Members requested to be apprised of the responses to the questions that were forthcoming from the discussion in the meeting and outside the meeting.


Members also requested information around a first port-of-call for parents or carers who are seeking assistance or support. The officers identified the first place to request help was from the SENDIASS service, accessible online at More informal support and advice can be found through the Rotherham Parent Carer Forum.


Members requested assurances that the upcoming review of the Strategy would take into account equalities and diversity perspectives and intersectionality in its person-centred and identity-led approach. The response from officers noted that the strategy was co-produced, and that consideration will be given to the need for more diversity perspectives in the strategy.


Members also expressed the desire for more information on mental health support in place to respond to neurodiversity needs. The response from officers noted the need to collaborate with partners such as RDaSH to ensure that the right support is in place. It was noted that Kooth has a responsive pathway for Autism. Research currently was focused on Scandinavia, and new knowledge was being developed around the needs specific to this area.


Members noted negative feedback and frustration from parents and from autistic people around lack of co-production in the actions of the board, partnership or strategy. Further, the lack of diversity within the spectrum and other identity characteristics was noted. Officers responded that the feedback received so far had been positive, and it was noted that perhaps consultation needed to be wider in future in order to ensure that any voices that may have been missed in the production of the previous strategy design could be captured in the review and refresh. Officers understood the need to invite as many people as possible to participate in the conversation as possible.


Members requested further detail about the take up of post-diagnostic support services and what feedback is received from those who choose not to access these services. The response from officers noted that where people come back and say they do not want the post-diagnostic support, there were further conversations undertaken to find out the reasons for that decision. Where it is because the people could not access the support, that has been addressed. Many times, it is related to historic diagnosis.


Members requested additional details around the deployment and uptake of the SEND toolkit in schools, and the autism-specific tools within that support toolkit. The response noted that whilst the use of the resource materials in schools likely varies, all schools are aware of the toolkit. As an example, a discussion of the toolkit at a recent away-day event was described, providing feedback that the resources have been efficacious and relevant within schools. GP’s initiatlly were the ones referring; now the major referrer is schools. The age range has shifted in the use of the Kooth app as well: initially they were older young people; now there are more 11-15 year-olds accessing the app.


Further information was also requested around ongoing lines of dialogue between Speak Up and the services and providers, rather than one-time feeding into the strategy. The response from officers noted that the co-chair of Speak up participated in the ongoing conversations with officers around the strategy.




1.    That the update be noted, and that the next update be submitted in 12 months’ time.


2.    That an easy-to-understand version of a network tree illustrating service relationships and pathways be provided to Members as part of future updates, and that consideration be given to incorporating a similar visualisation in communications with service users where appropriate.


3.    That the forthcoming review of the Autism Strategy include a consideration of equality and diversity in experiences of parents and service users in creating a more person-centred strategy.


4.    That the next update include available information on progress with STOMP/STAMP.


5.    That discussions be undertaken with relevant partners to lay the groundwork for enhanced local support for annual medical checks in anticipation of forthcoming government guidance.

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