NICE publishes standards to improve autism care

NICE publishes standards to improve autism care


Care and support for people with autism must be improved, according to experts.


The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today issued standards aimed to standardise and improve the care and management of the condition.


In England, it is estimated that 1 in every 100 people has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with the conditions more common in men than women.


The provision of services for people with autism is varied across England and the NICE quality standard aims to ensure better consistency.


It’s main recommendations include ensuring an assessment for ASD is conducted within three months of a patient’s referral; that drug treatments are not prescribed to address ASD (given that medication has been shown to be ineffective in addressing the core features of autism) and that people with autism who present with challenging behaviour be assessed for possible triggers.


Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care at NICE said: "People with autism can find everyday life challenging and confusing, and often have symptoms or aspects of other conditions that go undiagnosed. This quality standard outlines how to deliver the very best care and support for both adults and children with the condition.”


Jonathan Green, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Manchester and Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre, and member of the committee which developed the standards said: "Across England, there is real variation in the type and quality of care people with autism receive, which can have lasting effects on both the person and their families/carers. It is important, therefore, that there are clear standards in place - based on the best available evidence and expert consensus - which specifically focus on key areas needing improvement. These will aid health and social care professionals and commissioning bodies to deliver the very best for people with autism.”


Commenting on the new NICE standards, Mark Lever, chief executive of The National Autistic Society said: "The first step to getting the right support is having timely access to diagnosis so speeding up the process will have a significant impact on the lives of thousands of people with autism in England, many of whom have waited or are waiting, to obtain this critical milestone.


"The Standard recognises that people with autism can also have mental or physical health issues. Professionals need to understand that all of a person's issues need to be looked at when providing support and so services should rightly be judged on their ability to do just that.


"This Standard will also allow for services to be measured on how they respond and treat challenging behaviour and makes it clear that people with autism should not be prescribed medication to address the core features of the condition.


"People with autism have campaigned long and hard for their needs to be addressed when professionals are designing support and services; measuring progress against this Standard will help to ensure that this happens."

By Jo Carlowe

OnMedica, 21st January 2014

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