Delegates at today’s annual RCN Children and Young People’s Nursing Conference will also argue that hospital staff often have difficulty communicating with children with autism and need more training in this area.
More than a third of learning disability nurse posts have been cut since 2010 and fewer are in training than ever before, meaning an increasing number of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are unable to access the support they need.
Cuts to community services and a severe drop in learning disability nurses have also left many without care outside the hospital.
Parents too are often given little help after their child’s diagnosis and are forced to cope without the support they need, from counselling and family support groups to specialist education.
Fiona Smith, RCN Professional Lead for Children and Young People, said: “Children with autism are being severely let down by the sheer lack of support that is available to them.
“Nursing staff across health services have a huge role to play in helping children with autism and their families. However, we need the staff and the training in order to provide the care that is so vitally needed.”
Around one in every 100 children in the UK has ASD, a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.