Primary, secondary and tertiary autism services
The Care Act guidance breaks preventative services into primary, secondary and tertiary categories and these move from the promotion of more general services which may be purchased by the carer or autistic person, to more focused interventions aimed specifically at particular groups.
Primary prevention promotes wellbeing in the community as a universal service. This includes:
- good quality information
- support for safe communities
- reducing isolation or loneliness
- promoting a healthy lifestyle
- thinking ahead about future support needs.
Secondary prevention promotes more targeted early intervention. This may include:
- help with managing money
- handyman or gardening services
- home adaptations to make independent living more manageable.
Finally, tertiary prevention promotes targeted interventions aimed at improving the lives of people with disability or established health conditions. These may be:
- specific training programmes or reablement services
- respite care for carers
- emotional support or stress management classes.
The focus in recent guidance on diagnosis has an early intervention aspect, as the sooner people are accurately identified as having autism, the sooner appropriate, well-informed support can be provided. The insistence in ‘Think autism’ that a person receiving a diagnosis of any form of autism must be offered an assessment of need means that people with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome have at least overcome one hurdle to getting the support they need, even if they still have to have eligible wellbeing needs under the Care Act 2014. The expectation here that local areas will provide a universal information and advice service  should also mean that people with autism can be pointed in the right direction for accessing help.