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One in 100 people in the UK are on the autistic spectrum


We are working collaboratively to identify the right skills, values and behaviours the workforce require, so that people experience excellent care and support.


The National Autistic Society suggest that over 700,000 (1 in 100) people are on the autistic spectrum in the UK, more recent findings published by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that this number could be closer to 1 in 59. For these people and their families, there is often a battle to get the information, support and care they need. Fundamental struggle exist for people with autism in engaging with the world around them, leading to difficulties accessing adequate services.

In March of 2018 the Government published the “Think Autism strategy governance refresh” in which, to ensure future sustainability of the workforce caring for and supporting people of all ages with autism, it laid out two overarching strategy objectives:

  • Reducing the gap in life expectancy for autistic people
  • Autistic people are able to play a full role in society

The two objective where broken down across 5 domains of which workforce development became the responsibility of the Department of Health and Social Care and Health Education England.

On the 5 December 2018 we were really pleased to see that Governments announcement that will be leading a “review to improve the lives of autistic children”. The review will inform the new joint adults and children autism strategy to be published in autumn 2019 click here to find out more.

Key achievements

- Project steering group set up (first meeting on 6 December) to agree project scope and planning

- Additional members invited to join steering group

- Future steering group meetings scheduled and venues booked

- Coproduction workshops completed and finding currently under review pending publication

- Outcomes of the coproduction workshops and the initial research was reviewed at the second steering group on 26 February 2019

- A first full draft of the Autism Core Capabilities framework has been developed. This draft was circulated to the steering group and reviewed at the third project steering group meeting held on 11 April.

- Three further coproduction workshops have been arranged to focus on consultation with autistic children and young people. 

Upcoming milestones: 

-  The steering group will be reviewing the draft framework and an amended draft will be produced by the end of April, ready for wider consultation which will take place from early May 2019.

- The consultation workshops for autistic children and young people will take place at the beginning of May 2019.


Children and adults with or without an official identification of Autistic Spectrum Conditions have the right to receive support when they need it, from a workforce that is equipped with the right skills, values and behaviours. We would like to continue to work with experts by experience, their families and other experts in the field to support the workforce to continue to grow and evolve their practices so that they can better support people to live a good life.

Health Education England have been directed by the task and finish group members that make up the workforce development to support the development of the first national Autism Core Capabilities Framework for health and care staff, and staff in organisations with public facing responsibilities. The framework will be required to span all ages and will need to demonstrate the collaborative nature of its development (including co-production with autistic people and their families) across multiple partners. The purpose of the framework is to support development and planning of the workforce, and to inform the design and delivery of education and training programmes.

The project team includes people working for Skills for Health, the National Autistic Society, Opening Minds Training and Consultancy Ltd and Skills for Care. This group includes some autistic people and people with experience of having autistic family members.

Department of Health and Social Care: Review of the National Autism Strategy have your say now - closes 16 May 2019. 

Learning disability and autism training for health and care staff is open: public consultation click here to have your say - extended to 12 April 2019.


If you wish to register your interest in this work and provide consultation on the framework as it reaches the draft stage visit the skills for health website. You will then be invited to take part in an online survey as part of the consultation process (expected early 2019).

The team currently leading on the national Autism programme can be contacted at autism@hee.nhs.uk for general enquiries

For all parliamentary enquiries please contact the Public & Parliamentary Accountability team at parliamentary@hee.nhs.uk