Autism support examined

PUBLISHED: 14:00 23 February 2015

Archant

SUPPORT for autistic children could be improved throughout North Somerset, according to an executive councillor.

Councillor Jeremy Blatchford, whose portfolio includes children and young person’s services, said some youngsters are missing out on a diagnosis.

Others are travelling as far as Frome for their education.

Autism is a developmental disability which can affect how people relate to the world.

Cllr Blatchford is in the process of investigating how much support North Somerset children with autism receive.

He said: “At the moment I am carrying out an investigation because it would appear, for a whole number of complicated reasons, there are a number of children on the autistic spectrum and a lot are not receiving the support they need or not diagnosed at all because they fall below the guidelines set by the health service.

“This can lead to a lot of problems later down the line.

“Autism can be very difficult to detect and it can be made worse by anxiety.

“Children tested as being on the autistic spectrum have to wait months and months for diagnosis.

“And if a child is not identified as being above that line but the anxiety pushes it up above the line, we have a problem because they have missed out on a diagnosis.”

The council is paying for autistic children to travel to Frome on a daily basis for their education.

Cllr Blatchford believes these transport costs could be cut if more support was offered in North Somerset - which could save money in the long run.

Social impact bonds, which is investment to help social problems, could provide funding.

Cllr Blatchford said: “If we don’t have to pay for a taxi to take someone to Frome and take them to somewhere suitable in North Somerset it would be better for everybody, including the taxpayer.

“The dream is to be able to prove a case to get a social impact bond to help fund it.”


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