Older people with autism in Scotland are often being misunderstood and misdiagnosed, and charity the National Autistic Society has warned of an “invisible generation”.
The NAS Scotland has said that people are still tending to only associate autism with children. However one in five people with autism is thought to be over the age of 60, reports the BBC.
The charity is now calling for action to ensure the needs of elderly people who are autistic are fully understood and met. They have urged the Scottish government to act on its concerns whilst it implements an Autism Strategy for Scotland and rolls out £13.4m in funding to support people with the condition.
Autism is said to be under-diagnosed in older people and NAS Scotland has expressed a concern in regards to the diagnostic pathways Scottish health boards have in place.
There are also questions over the form of effective support will take in the long term with autism as there is currently little research into how the condition develops with age. The NAS Scotland have said that they have received anecdotal evidence that clinicians working in age-related specialisms often have a small understanding of the disability and limited professional understanding on how other health issues, like dementia, may affect adults with autism.
Robert MacBean, policy and campaigns officer for NAS Scotland, said: “Huge strides have been taken in changing attitudes towards autism and increasing understanding of the lifelong, disabling condition that touches the lives of over 58,000 people in Scotland. But there is still a tendency to think of autism as a condition that just affects children, when there are older people with autism in all our communities who need our support and care. Too many older adults with autism are missing out on diagnosis entirely and too many are still waiting for their needs to be assessed. And all too often, it's unclear what support will be available for them as they get older. This must change.”
He added: “The Scottish government has a chance to finally deliver these adults the support they need by making sure that their views, experience and advice are taken into as it implements its Autism Strategy for Scotland. It is essential decision-makers at all levels don't miss this vital opportunity to make a difference to thousands of lives.”
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