The Autism Bill passed its final stage in the House of Lords on 22 October 2009 to become England’s first ever disability-specific law. Once it receives Royal Assent, the Bill will officially become the Autism Act, under which the Government’s forthcoming adult autism strategy will be legally enforceable and must be published within the next six months.
Under the new law, the NHS and local authorities will have to provide diagnostic services for adults with autism and better training for health and social care staff, and they could face legal action if they fail to provide appropriate support for people with autism.
The bill was drafted by the The National Autistic Society (NAS) and steered through Parliament, as a Private Members' Bill with cross party support, by Conservative MP Cheryl Gillan. NAS chief executive, Mark Lever, said; “Thousands of adults with autism told us they were experiencing serious mental health difficulties due to a lack of support. After a year of lobbying, this is the watershed moment they have been waiting for - this law could literally transform lives”.