Care for Autistic Children Needs to be Improved
A rising number of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are unable to get the support they require, due to cuts to learning disability nurses.
Delegates and nursing experts spoke at the annual RCN Children and Young People’s Nursing Conference, addressing the need for improved care for children with autism. They warned that since 2010, more than a third of learning disability nurse posts have been cut, with fewer in training than ever before. This has seen an increase in the number of children with ASD who are unable to access the support they need. Many have also been left without care outside the hospital due to cuts to community services.
They also argued that hospital staff often experience difficulty when communicating with autistic children, calling for more training in this area. There were also discussions as to how parents are given minimal help once their child is diagnosed and are often left to cope without the support they need, such as family support groups, counselling or specialist education.
RCN Professional Lead for Children and Young People, Fiona Smith, said: “Children with autism are being severely let down by the sheer lack of support that is available to them.
“Nursing staff across health services have a huge role to play in helping children with autism and their families. However, we need the staff and the training in order to provide the care that is so vitally needed.”
ASD is a condition that affects communication, social interaction, behaviour and interests – approximately one in every 100 children in the UK has been diagnosed with ASD.