PEOPLE living with autism are being urged to sign up to a database to help improve local services.

The database is managed by regional charity Autism Wessex and aims to log information on demographics, use of social care services, benefits and types of housing to provide data to provide anonymously to health, social care and voluntary organisations.

Karen Wilmshurst, Advocacy Services Manager at Autism Wessex, said: “The database was launched around six months ago and while we have had a good take-up so far, we still need far more people aged 16 and over to register so that we can get a really clear idea of what services we can develop to make a real difference. “If you are over 16, have autism, and live in Dorset then please register your details with us for free by phone, email or post. It’s confidential and we will only ever share statistical data from the database – no personal information will be disclosed.”

Quarterly reports will be passed to statutory organisations to provide detailed and relevant information to help services be targeted more effectively.

Nigel Harris, who sits on the board of the pan-Dorset Autistic Spectrum Condition Partnership, was one of the first people to register.

He said: “If the autistic community remains as invisible to the authorities and services as we were in the past, then how can we hope to be noticed? How can things change?

“The autistic community being noticed is crucial if today’s limited funds and resources are to be channelled into supporting us, and into supporting us in the right way.”

Funded by a two-year grant from the NHS, Autism Wessex will maintain the database, which will be held on its secure servers. Everyone who registers will be contacted annually to ensure their details are accurate and up to date.

To sign up to the database, visit autismwessex.org.uk/database or for more information, contact the Autism Wessex Information and Advice team on 01305 213135 or email advice@autismwessex.org.uk