Working age adults who face challenges coping with everyday life can get help from a new service launched by West Sussex County Council.
The “Prevention Assessment Team – Working Age Adults’ Service” supports a wide range of adults, such as those with Asperger’s syndrome or are on the higher functioning end of the autistic spectrum.
Health professionals, social workers and social care workers make up the service as well as support workers from national mental health service provider the Richmond Fellowship.
They help to maintain the health, wellbeing and independence of people who struggle with the sorts of challenges most people may face in their daily life.
Their needs may have gone unrecognised previously either because there is still a poor understanding of the needs of people with autism or because an individual may not have been diagnosed with autism.
The team will provide support by signposting people to local social groups and activities; through helping people into employment or voluntary work; by linking people with agencies that can maximise a person’s income; or by providing support to help a person develop practical skills such as budgeting and cooking.
One of the driving forces behind the creation of the new team are the new duties local authorities have to fulfil as part of the Autism Act 2009, though its client group is wider than just adults with autism, and includes all adults of working age who are more vulnerable.
The County Council has also made some funding available to groups that support people with autism – such as The Asperger’s Awareness Group, the Asperger’s Voice Self-Advocacy Group and the Autism Aware Card scheme.
The County Council has also created a section on its website with information about autism and the services available.
One person helped by the service was Caroline, whom it initially helped to arrange repairs to her flat and to negotiate with tradesmen when work was not carried out to her satisfaction.
It also helped successfully prepare her for a job interview with the County Council and supported her through this.
She said: “It’s made a massive difference to my life, being supported by people who understand the things I find difficult and can help bring about real solutions. The lights in my flat are now all working, the plumbing issues have been resolved, I’m beginning to feel much more positive about the future, and I will soon be starting work for the first time in years!”
To contact the team e-mail: PATWorkAge@westsussex.gov.uk or phone 01273 268900.