SOUTH Craven people with autism are receiving increased levels of support.

North Yorkshire County Council is stepping up its nationally-acclaimed programme to help those with the condition lead more fulfilling lives.

The authority has set-up autism and employment drop-in sessions to support people into jobs.

And ahead of World Autism Awareness Week, which begins on March 27, it has committed to reviewing and extending its autism accreditation programme.

As many as 18 of the county council's health and adult care services have already completed the three-year National Autistic Society training.

The scheme aims to improve staff practice and develop a consistent approach to supporting people with autism and Asperger syndrome.

During training, staff have worked closely with families, employers, the voluntary sector and other professionals.

Sixty autism 'champions' have been appointed to help ensure people's needs are properly understood.

County Councillor Clare Wood, executive member for adult social care and health integration, said: "The training has had incredibly positive outcomes.

"We have seen the lives of people with autism improve in so many ways and we now intend to build on this good practice.

"We've been commended by the National Autistic Society for developing our knowledge and so many of our services proactively and achieving the most positive outcomes nationally.

"Accreditation doesn't come easily and staff members have shown incredible commitment to the process."