Autism services in Scotland: ‘great strides being made’

Posted on 02/04/2014 by



Progress is being made in improving Scottish autism services, according to Public Health Minister Michael Mathieson. Today is World Autism Day, and Mr Matheson said said ‘great strides’ had been made in improving access to autism services.

Mr Matheson highlighted in particular the establishment of six new one-stop shops since the Scottish Strategy for Autism’s launch in November 2011, where people with autism and their families can get support and information. These centres, in Dunfermline, Inverness, Motherwell, Aberdeen, Kilmarnock and Perth, are added to those already in operation in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Services are provided by Scottish Autism, National Autistic Society Scotland and Autism Initiatives.

The new centres are funded as part of the Strategy which sets out 26 recommendations for improving the quality of life for people with autism and their carers.

Mr Matheson said: “The new one-stop shops really demonstrates what we are trying to achieve in our Autism Strategy. They bring local services closer to those who need them most, helping people to get support and build up networks. We are now into year three of a ten year plan. Some great strides have already been made, but we’re under no illusion that there’s more work to be done before we get to where we want to be.”

Many initiatives have been funded under the Strategy since November 2011, and some of the key ones include:

  • Working with the British Institute for Learning Disability – a Scottish edition of the Institute’s Good Autism Practice Journal has been produced, showcasing examples of innovative autism good practice work in Scotland. This was launched at a successful event in November 2013 and is available for free online
  • A ‘Menu of interventions’ has also been developed in collaboration with autism professionals , people with autism and their parents and carers. The Menu gives an overview of different interventions and techniques, and sets out the referral and assessment process that can be applied across the country. This will be launched at a special event in May and disseminated via a series of road shows across Scotland throughout the summer
  • A mapping project has also been carried out to establish what autism services are available in each locality. A Service Map was provided to each local authority to help them plan services and identify priority areas for action. Strategy funding was also given to each local authority to develop a local Autism Action Plan and the Service Maps have been helpful in informing the development of these

Mr Matheson added: “Our vision when setting out our strategy was that people with autism should be respected, accepted and valued in their communities, and that they should have services that enable them to have meaningful lives. There is no room for complacency, but I think we are well on the way to achieving that goal.”

World Autism Awareness Day has been a designated United Nations day since 2007 and is celebrated every year on 2 April.

The Scottish Government has been working with Autism Network Scotland to pull together a schedule of various activities and special events happening locally across Scotland to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day. Event information will be posted on the Network’s website and a link to this provided on the Strategy website at

There’s lots going on in Edinburgh to mark World Autism Day – see our 23 March post (City set to mark Autism Awareness Day) for details.