A CAMPAIGN has been launched to encourage people to view autism as a development difference, rather than a disorder.

The Scottish Government is working with the Inspiring Scotland charity on the bid to publicise autism as a different way of thinking, as opposed to a condition that can be cured.

Further steps include the government working with Scottish Autism to improve support for newly-diagnosed autistic people and their families, as well as updating the autism resources available to local schools.

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Celia Tennant, Inspiring Scotland chief executive, said: “These steps aim to increase society’s understanding of autism – to move away from stereotypes and make clear the many strengths autistic people bring to society.

“We are proud to be a partner in this programme and look forward to working with autistic people, charities and organisations to create change for autistic people.”

Mental health minister Clare Haughey added: “We are absolutely committed to changing attitudes and to showing the positive contributions that people with autism can make.

“We want everyone to receive the support they need to reach their full potential, in the most suitable environment, with a range of provisions in place to ensure this is the case.”

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Dr Alison Rennie, who sits on the Scottish Government’s children and young people’s mental health taskforce, has praised the new move towards assessments that are based more on needs and less on diagnosis.

She said: “There are exciting proposals for a different service for children and young people which will include a broad-based assessment of needs, identification of appropriate strategies and services and less focus on diagnosis.

“A key aim will be prevention of future mental health issues and promotion of the positive contribution of neurodiversity in our society.”