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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 64
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Location: Long Island, New York

15 Jul 2021, 7:46 am


The government's failure to reduce the number of autistic people confined to mental health units in England is a "national scandal", a charity says.

The National Autistic Society said a promise to get those with the condition out of hospitals had not been met.

NHS figures for 2021 show a 10% rise in patients compared with six years ago.
The government said it was investing £62m in community services and supporting discharges from hospitals.

According to the National Autistic Society, the majority of detentions are made under the Mental Health Act 1983, despite autism itself not being a mental health disorder.
"As the law currently stands, you can actually be sectioned just for being autistic," said Felicity Stephenson, the organisation's mental health policy lead.

Patients can be admitted to hospital due to the lack of a care package, the need for family or carers to have some respite or because an autistic individual has mental health problems.

In 2012, following BBC Panorama's investigation into abuse of those with learning disabilities, including autism, at Winterbourne View private hospital, then Care Minister Norman Lamb said the government was planning a "dramatic reduction" in detentions.

In 2015, NHS England committed to closing 35-50% of inpatient beds for autistic people with or without a learning disability and to develop the right community support by 2019.
NHS figures on people with autism in hospital settings, which began to be collected from 2015, show numbers had risen from 1,105 to 1,215 earlier this year.

Ms Stephenson said: "There are a number of these people who are ready to be discharged, but because there aren't the right services in the community there is nowhere for them to go, so they remain in hospital."

She said people who were autistic but did not have a mental health condition would not benefit from an inpatient facility.

"It will actually make behaviour worse and can be a traumatising experience as they're in an environment where people haven't had the adequate training to understand how to support autistic people.

"Wards can be loud, noisy and bright, which can really affect sensory differences, causing escalations in behaviour and leading to people being sectioned for longer."

Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity.

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman