Today we published our latest report, Changing lives: A report on the autism voluntary sector. Following on from 2007’s A life less ordinary, the report explores the changes faced by the sector over the last three years, and looks at how these changes will affect the lives of people with autism.

During the research for this project we’ve heard some really positive and inspiring stories about the difference services provided by autism charities have made to people’s lives. But its also struck me how worried a lot of people are about the possible loss of services, and the very real effect this will have on their lives.

Take Resources for Autism, for example. The charity offers practical services such as play schemes, art programmes and short breaks for children and adults with autism. These kind of services can be a lifeline for people with autism and their families, but are vulnerable to funding cuts. Liza Dresner, the charity’s director, told us that the families she works with often wouldn’t be able to keep going without such services: ‘The task of parenting a child with autism is very hard, and parents tell me that the sessions we run are the highlight of their week‘. Cuts in government funding could threaten these types of activities.

We’ve had a fantastic response to the report so far – you can read about it in the guardian, listen to a discussion of guidance on the autism strategy on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, or read a longer blog written by me on the guardian’s voluntary sector network. It’s great to see such an important issue being picked up and talked about.

Changing lives is available to download for free from NPC’s website – click here to read more about it and download a copy.

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