Thank you to all of you who added your name to the letter I sent to the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, in relation to the Lyme Induced Autism Foundation’s intention to demonstrate outside the Department of Health on the 9th May. From all reports, the demo gained the attention of, as my grandmother would say, a fart in a thunder storm.
With parasites being the cause de jour for autism (and bleach enemas a proposed “treatment“) making sure this kind of deluded nonsense doesn’t gain traction seems pretty important to me. Anyway, here is the reply and some details to follow (all hyperlinks and pictures are my addition):
Thank you for your correspondence of 4 May to the Department of Health about autism. I have been asked to reply.
I understand your concerns about the Lyme Induced Autism Foundation (LIA).
There is no convincing evidence to establish the link between Lyme Disease and Autism. The joint Department of Health and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens will be keeping all the evidence on Lyme Disease under review.
More generally, I would like to assure you that the Government is committed to addressing the disadvantage that people with autism can experience. This commitment is demonstrated by the role of Paul Burstow, Minister of State for Care Services, as chair of the cross-Government Autism Programme Board. The board includes self-advocate and family carer members as well as key external partner organisations.
As the emphasis of the programme has shifted from development to implementation, the Board will:
• lead and co-ordinate cross-Government work to deliver the vision of the autism strategy; and
• provide challenge and support to all Government departments on their contributions to the autism agenda.
Statutory guidance to assist local authorities, NHS bodies and NHS foundation trusts on issues set out in the Autism Act 2009 was published in December 2010. The purpose of the guidance is to secure the implementation of the Autism Act and the Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives strategy. The guidance focuses on four important areas where health and social care can change the way they support adults with autism:
• increasing understanding of autism amongst staff;
• strengthening diagnosis and assessment of needs;
• continuing to improve transition support; and
• ensuring that adults with autism are included in local service planning.
The focus of implementation is at local level; delivering the vision is not just the responsibility of central government. The statutory guidance seeks to reflect the Government’s intention to reduce the number of direct requirements placed on local authorities and NHS bodies, giving them greater freedom to develop services to reflect local priorities whilst working to deliver desired outcomes.
‘Fulfilling and rewarding lives: Evaluating Progress‘, which was published on 2 April 2011, fulfils the Government’s commitment to publishing a self-assessment framework for local organisations to support delivery of ‘Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives’ and the statutory guidance for health and social care that accompanies the strategy.
I hope this reply is helpful.
Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries
Department of Health
Autism Programme Board Membership (updated February 2012)
Anya Ustaszewki – Self-advocate
John Simpson – Self-advocate
Debi Evans – Parent Carer Representative
Jackie Edwards – Parent Carer Representative
Declan Murphy – Kings College London
Simon Baron-Cohen – University of Cambridge
Terry Brugha – University of Leicester
John Phillipson – Autism Alliance UK
Amanda Hutchinson – Care Quality Commission
Zandrea Stewart – Association for Directors of Adult Social Services
Bruce Calderwood – Department of Health
Rachel Holynska – Department of Health, East Midlands
Anne Donkin – Department of Works and Pensions
Nigel Fulton – Department of Education
Roger Wilshaw – Department for Communities & Local Government
Paul Williams – Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Tina Jenkins – Ministry of Justice
Autism Strategy DH Officials
Patience Wilson – Deputy Director for Independent Living , Department of Health
Michael Swaffield – Autism Policy Lead, Department of Health
Anita Wadhawan – Autism Policy Manager & Secretariat to the Autism Board