On 10 May 2018, an update of the guidelines for the promotion and improvement of the quality and appropriateness of assistance interventions for autism was finally approved by a unified Conference in Italy gathering the Government, the Regions, the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano and the local authorities.
The new guidelines serve to update the previous national guidelines on autism, published back in 2012. The update constitutes an important step for the rights of autistic people with regards notably to socio-health and educational interventions.
The guidelines are in effect complementary to the previous ones, and do not entirely replace them. Rather, they give an updated picture of the studies on autism with epidemiological data and refer to ‘essential assistance levels’, suggesting that that the guidelines become an element of evaluation for monitoring these assistance levels.
Some of the most notable updates include updating the guidelines for the promotion and improvement of quality and appropriate assistance interventions, taking care of the needs of families of autistic children, and a deadline of 6 months for regions and autonomous provinces to implement the guidelines. Crucially, the guidelines are also to be implemented in each of the 20 Italian regions.
Some concerns still linger about shortcoming in the guidelines, however. It has been pointed out that the guidelines focus predominantly on the medical model of autism, looking at a health-based approach and not sufficiently at fostering social inclusion. There is also the issue of documentation for autistic adults, a topic that remains to be fully addressed in the guidelines.
The next step in this process will be to subsequently update to the Scientific Guidelines published in 2011 by ISS (National Institute of Health). ISS already launched a public announcement for building a Panel on this subject.
For more information (in Italian), click on the links below: