People with autism allowed to exercise “more than once a day” and travel outside local area, say new Government guidelines

People with learning disabilities or autism can now leave the house for exercise more than once a day, it has been confirmed.

The change of stance comes after the Government’s social distancing rules were labelled discriminatory against those with special needs.

Under the changes, people with specific health conditions who need to maintain their health will be allowed to leave their home “two or three times each day”. Likewise, those with special needs will be allowed to travel beyond their local area if it is “important to your health”.

According to the National Autistic Society (NAS), people with learning disabilities and those on the autism spectrum benefit immensely from exercise, but may need to go to quieter places, away from other people, to do so. This may sometimes mean driving a long distance to a secluded location.

However, the charity received reports that people with autism and their carers were being stopped by police or “judged by members of the public for going out too often”.

Commenting on the new guidance, Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs at NAS, said: “Even seemingly small changes can feel catastrophic to autistic children and adults. Going out for a walk is an important part of many autistic people’s routine and changing that may jeopardise their health and safety.

“Some autistic people might need someone to go with them on a walk or a trip to the shops and careworkers may need to link arms with them, simply to keep them safe. Some could need more than one person with them. If members of the public or police rush to judge, they might think this is someone ignoring the rules of social distancing. But it’s actually vital for that person’s safety and wellbeing.”

According to the latest statistics, autism affects around one in every 100 people, meaning there are around 700,000 individuals on the autism spectrum in the UK.

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