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SWU Blog: World Autism Awareness Week 2021

BASW England and the Social Workers Union highlight the 'Homes Not Hospitals' campaign this year. BASW England and the Autism Alliance will launch a suite of resources for social workers on May 10...

World Autism Awareness Week 2021 runs from March 29 – April 4 and aims to improve people's understanding of autism.

Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition that affects how people perceive the world, how they think and behave, and how they communicate and interact with others. It is a spectrum condition and affects people in different ways; like all people, autistic people have their own strengths and weaknesses.

According to the National Autistic Society, one in 100 people are autistic and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK. It is likely that you have autistic colleagues at your workplace and over the course of your career as a social worker you will be supporting autistic people.

Autistic people face many barriers in the workplace and society as a whole – including inequality, discrimination, misunderstanding, and isolation. The Autism Alliance launched the Know Your Rights campaign in 2019 to ensure autistic people know their rights regarding the Autism Act 2009 and the Care Act 2014. Despite these ground-breaking pieces of legislation, autistic people are still subject to inappropriate care needs assessments. Key points from the Autism Alliance's 2019 survey painted a troubling picture:

  • 77% of local authorities told us the tool they were using is not autism specific.
  • 24% of local authorities told us they only provide 1 day of training.
  • 76% had only met their assessor on the day.
  • 80% did not receive any paperwork or copy of the assessment in advance.
  • 45% of people were not able to invite people who are important to them.
  • Only 2% were offered an advocate despite 42% saying that they needed one.

You can watch the 'BASW England and the Autism Alliance: Know Your Rights' 2020 webinar that includes information and resources for individuals, families and social workers about the rights of autistic young people and adults – showing where things can go wrong and what action can be taken to prevent people reaching a crisis point.

This year BASW England and SWU are highlighting the 'Homes Not Hospitals' campaign for World Autism Awareness Week. This campaign was created in response to the alarming number of autistic people and people with learning disabilities being detained in ATUs, restrictive care arrangements, and seclusion units. The campaign promotes preventative approaches in terms of commissioning, human rights-based practice, the role of social work, and legal literacy to reduce the risk of situations from reaching the point of hospital admission.

You are invited to join the free BASW England Webinar: 'Homes not Hospitals campaign - launch of key documents' on May 10 featuring a suite of resources for social workers which have been developed to promote the Homes not Hospitals campaign.

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