More than 100 people attended council-run events on Tuesday to mark World Autism Awareness Day and gather feedback that will be used to improve support for local residents on the spectrum.
Croydon people with autism, their relatives, and health and social care professionals attended a two-hour Question Time-style event in the council chamber at the Town Hall.
A panel of five experts answered questions on a range of issues, including health, how best to tailor support to individuals, and how to help carers and loved ones.
The Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Bernadette Khan, also hosted a civic reception with 80 guests.
The events were designed to both highlight the contribution of people with autism to the borough and discuss opportunities to improve their day-to-day experiences.
All feedback will inform the council’s future autism strategy, which focuses on every aspect of the lives of people with autism and will be published later this year.
In addition to Tuesday’s panel and mayoral reception, a Hear Autism roundtable will be held this Saturday (6 April) at the council’s Cherry Hub in St James’s Road.
Open between 10.30am and 4pm, and run by the council with Healthwatch Croydon, the drop-in session will encourage attendees to give feedback on different aspects of their experiences, either in groups, one-to-one or individually in writing. The topics include employment and education, housing, relationships and leisure.
The event, which is open to people aged 18 and over or young people aged 16-17 with parental consent, will be staffed by volunteers who have either worked alongside people with autism or have the condition themselves.
Autism is a lifelong neurological characteristic affecting how people perceive and interact with the world around them. Some people with autism can live fully independent lives while others may require lifetime specialist support.
Councillor Jerry Fitzpatrick, Chair of the Autism Partnership Board, said: “This event underlines the importance that the council places on our large autistic community. We celebrate their achievements and salute those providing support to meet the needs and fulfil the aspirations of people on the spectrum.
“People with autism often face barriers in their daily lives, from access to work issues to mental health problems, so their feedback will be invaluable in helping us improve how we support them.”
The council has also developed an online autism awareness course so anyone can learn more about those who have autism or are on the autism spectrum: https://croydon.melearning.university/course_centre