World Autism Acceptance Week 28 March to 3 April 2022

Autism Appreciation in Surrey

Surrey County Council is committed to improving the lives of all autistic people living, working or learning in Surrey. Our All-Age Autism Strategy brought together by autistic children, young people, adults and family carers together with the council and partner organisations aims to improve the lives of 11,000 autistic residents.

Our Surrey All Age Autism Strategy is available to view online with a supporting video.

Our aims are:

  • To achieve an autism-friendly approach across the county in education, health, social care, work, and communities.
  • For services to have a more joined-up, proactive, timely and autism-accessible offer so autistic people have equality of access
  • For community and service settings to be understanding and welcoming for autistic children, young people and adults.

The first six months of the strategy

You said. We consulted our residents about their experiences and how things could be improved in Surrey for autistic people, some of the quotes from this are shown below.

We did. In response to these quotes, this is what we have done in the first 6 months.


"None of the support workers really understand autism, they think they do, but they really don't"

Surrey County Council's Children, Families and Learning Department has trained 1,100 staff in autism awareness.

The Adult Autism Partnership Board has funded a team of autistic people, Autism by Experience, to develop a modular training approach in line with Skills for Care / Skills for Health requirements. This has been delivered to the Learning Disability and Autism Team, and Transition Team, with plans to deliver to Mental Health, Housing support and other services.

Autism by Experience has developed some printed material to help raise awareness and understanding in the wider community

Autism Friendly Communities

"I'm asking for more direct involvement in our communities, for a place at the table"

"I would find it useful if the community as a whole had more understanding of ASD because I think differently"

We have secured funding and started a pilot of an Autism Friendly Community in Redhill. This work has delivered autism training to 65 people working in public facing roles in Redhill, with more courses

Autistic people have been involved in the design of the process, and the training was developed and delivered by autistic people.

Inpatient Services

"It can be overwhelming in a busy hospital and sometimes there wasn't a quieter place to go to."

"Hospital environments are designed in a way which makes them 100 times harder for an autistic individual. The lights are too bright and there is no way to dim then, the background noise, such as machines, is unnecessarily loud and seats are too close together leading to feelings of claustrophobia"

We have successfully bid to run a pilot of improvements to the sensory environment in mental health hospitals for autistic people.

Health Services

"A waiting room can get very loud so it's very hard. The lights are too bright and there is no way to dim then, the background noise, such as machines, is unnecessarily loud and seats are too close together leading to feelings of claustrophobia"

Work is underway to improve access to health services for autistic people. Autism is now specifically included in the work to identify reasonable adjustments people may need, to flag them on medical records, and in the Leder mortality review process.

Mental Health

"Some understanding that an autistic person can have mental health problems too. Don't refuse to help with a MH problem just because someone is autistic. You can have both problems."

We have secured funding for the Patient Safety Academy to review recent crisis hospital admissions of autistic people and identify where pathways could be improved.

The Surrey and Borders Trust Neurodevelopmental Team is supporting mental health colleagues to understand the overlaps between autism and mental health.

As part of the Children's Neurodevelopmental Pathway, Mindworks now specifically includes support for autistic children and young people with mental health needs.


"An earlier diagnosis would have helped but I am extremely grateful for now having an accurate diagnosis as my life now makes more sense and I can use tools that work more effectively for me"

"It would have been better to have been able to talk to people about my autism and learnt more about it and how it affected me."

We have designed improvements to the diagnostic process, including more support pre and post diagnosis. We have successfully bid for funding to implement this during the coming year.

Partnership Working

"Once we fall through the gaps, we're so busy holding on to the slats between the gaps, our children and our own well- being, that it's really difficult to ask for help of those walking along the slats above us. They need to look down and give us a hand back up"

Work is underway to improve communication between services, to identify and plug the gaps that people experience. SCC Adult Social Care Mental Health, Learning Disability, Autism and Transition Teams have agreed a process for joint assessment where needed.

Police and Criminal Justice

"I would say that not only did the justice system not support me, but they made it worse and used my vulnerability against me"

Surrey Police is carrying out a review of their autism training. Health and Social Care services are working together to develop housing and the wraparound support needed for autistic people at risk of becoming involved in the criminal justice system.

What is autism?

One in 100 people are on the autism spectrum, and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK alone. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.

Each person on the spectrum may have different experiences and needs, and Autism Appreciation in Surrey is focussing on how our All-Age Autism Strategy activity is working towards achieving an autism-friendly approach across the county.

Hear from autistic resident Peter what it's like to be autistic and how to support autistic people in Surrey.

Living with autism

Find out what it's like to live with autism. This series of films, developed by the Surrey Autism Partnership Board, brings you an insight of autistic adult views and experiences of living with autism.

Films by the Surrey Autism Partnership board

Here are some films about children living with autism from Ambitious About Autism.

What is a meltdown? video

Communication challenges video

What is a shutdown? video

What is stimming? video

What's it like to be autistic? video

Experience what it's like as an autistic child visiting a shopping centre.

What's happening during Autism Acceptance Week?

The National Autistic Society are celebrating 60 years! They have some special events and activities including Anne Hegerty's downloadable Spectrum Quiz and the Spectrum Night Walk

The National Autistic Society and The Autism Education Trust have a suite of free resources for all age groups, from early years to post 16, to help your colleagues and students learn about autism and better understand their classmates. These resources give you access to lesson packs, presentations, videos, teacher packs, posters and other lesson tools.

Download your pack

Helpful services

Looking for support, advice and information? Here are some of the local and national services who may be of use.

Family Voice Surrey Champions the needs and rights of SEND families in Surrey. Families with children or young adults up to the age of 25 who have special educational needs, chronic illnesses, including mental health conditions, or disabilities.

Action for Carers Surrey support for all Surrey's carers.

National Autistic Society Surrey Branch offer local activities and events along with face to face and online support groups and advice.

Mindworks Surrey offer various services to support children including with their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Appeer CIC provides advice, social/peer support, virtual sessions and events such as yoga and climbing for girls aged 7 and above.

Ambitious Youth Network is a safe moderated space for autistic young people aged 16 to 25 to understand their autistic identity. Young people will be able to take part in peer support sessions, share experiences and find volunteering, work experience and employment opportunities.

You may also like to use the Local Offer Directory to find further services.