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Policy paper: National strategy for autistic children, young people and adults: 2021 to 2026

Students walking away from camera towards school with backpacks on

The government’s national strategy for improving the lives of autistic people and their families and carers in England, and implementation plan for 2021 to 2022.

The Autism Act is a law that tries to make things more equal for autistic adults in England. This law says that the government has to write a strategy to help autistic adults.

In 2019, we asked autistic people, their families and carers, professionals and organisations what they thought about this.

We have included what we found out and what people told us in our new strategy. The old strategy and The Autism Act were only about adults.

The government thinks it is important to notice autism early in a person’s life, so they can get the right help when they need it. This new strategy includes children and young people too.



The strategy builds on and replaces the preceding adult autism strategy, Think Autism, which was published in April 2014. It extends the scope of the strategy to children and young people for the first time.

The focus of this new strategy and implementation plan have been informed by the government’s call for evidence on the review of Think Autism, which received over 2,700 responses from autistic people, their families and carers and organisations.

In addition, the strategy has been informed by independent research we commissioned the Policy Innovation Research Unit to undertake into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on autistic people and their families.

The government also commissioned Skills for Care, the National Development Team for Inclusion and the National Autistic Society to produce a guide to help commissioners to identify local demand and develop the right services and support for autistic people, which is published alongside this strategy.

Published 21 July 2021
Last updated 22 July 2021 + show all updates

  1. 22 July 2021 Updated the ‘Autism strategy implementation plan: 2021 to 2022 (Annex A)’, changing the date of completion for ‘Publishing and consulting on the SEND review’ to ‘as soon as possble’.
  2. 21 July 2021 First published.

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