The Disabilities Trust has today welcomed the GP training programme on autism as highlighted by the media during the week commencing 5th January.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has underlined its belief that autism patients have been failed by ‘the system’ and has launched a three-year training programme to raise awareness and better educate its fifty thousand members about the condition.

Anna Headley, Director of the Trust’s Autism Spectrum Partners division, welcomed the programme and the associated media coverage and emphasised that increased awareness and training for professional groups is vital. She said:

Failure to diagnose or support someone with autism can lead to a ‘social crisis’, with someone unable to get work or socialise, and they may also find it difficult to form relationships - all of which can contribute to poor mental health outcomes.

"The Trust is currently looking at how we can reach this ‘hidden population’ of people who may need support but have undiagnosed autism, or are struggling in isolation and only reach medical services when they enter a crisis, usually a mental health problem.

"We would like to work with professional groups to improve knowledge and quality of life for people with autism, with the aim of preventing these mental health problems.”

The Trust currently offers all its Autism Spectrum Partners staff a Foundation Autism Training Programme and welcomes external interest and involvement from GPs and other primary care staff.

Autism is a condition that affects more than 600,000 people in the UK, and while no two people have the same needs, people with autism share three main areas of difficulty: social communication, social interaction and imagination; this is often accompanied by sensory differences and this can impact greatly on a person's life, causing them to be anxious and frightened which can in turn lead to challenging behaviour.

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