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(UK) Wiltshire: "Increase in number of autistic people in county who need special support"

June 6, 2023, BCC News: Wiltshire care placement delays 'too long for my autistic son'

SW England

David King, 55, is a full-time carer for his son Callum - but fears for when he can no longer support him.

Callum, 27, is severely autistic and Mr King worries his condition will worsen when that time comes, because of delays in Wiltshire's care system.

Wiltshire Council said it had seen an increase in the number of autistic people needing specialist support and was working "to increase capacity".

But Mr King thinks it will not be enough to get Callum the help he needs.

In the county it takes an average of 101 days to secure a long-term care placement for people in the kind of position his son is in, figures show.

If he needs to go into care, Callum would initially be moved into one of Wiltshire's two respite centres until the placement could be found.

But until now, Mr King says he has only successfully spent three nights in a respite centre. "Should I not be able to care for [Callum} anymore he'd be staying [at a respite centre] for a lot more than one, two or three nights," he said.

"Which he couldn't cope with and they couldn't cope with."

'Every day's a challenge'

Describing caring for his son, Mr King says "it's pretty intense but it's not Callum's fault"….

Mr King recognises that with over 42,000 unpaid carers needing support by Wiltshire Council, finances can only stretch so far - but concerns for his family are growing.

"I acknowledge that the council are probably operating with not a lot of funds and a lot of people like me needing help," he said.

"But I've got to the stage where although I understand it, I'm kind of caring a little bit less and starting to worry more about me and my little family.

"Future planning for when the time comes that I'm unable to care for Callum - that's crucial. He can not fit into your Wiltshire Council systems."

'Placements closely monitored'

Councillor Jane Davies, cabinet member for special educational needs and disabilities, said there had been an increase in the number of autistic people in the county who need special support.

"To meet this demand we are working closely with the market to increase capacity," she said….


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