Monday, December 6, 2010

December 17th from 9am Wellcome Conference Centre, 183 Euston Road

December 17th from 9am Wellcome Conference Centre, 183 Euston Road

Join London Autistic Rights Movement.( LARM)

And Disabled People Against Cuts

This is happening in London on the 17th December over the government strategy for autism, which is being publicly launched on that day. 
The protest is happening because autistic people and their families are being badly let down by a strategy that amounts to warm words but with no new funding and no involvement in decision-making by the very people it's meant to help. We feel that the government's desire to save money and cut the public bill has trumped any interest in genuinely helping autistic people.
The launch event is all day and gets going from 9 am so it will most likely be quite early.

I also wanted to explain a little bit about this issue - which is one you've most likely heard nothing about. It's received almost no coverage in the media as far as I can tell, but it's nonetheless a very important issue for some of the most marginalised people in society.

They are crying out for genuine help - ensuring they can get a diagnosis and access to the support they need to be able to live genuinely fulfilling lives. Right now 85% of autistic people are not in employment, and many are socially isolated and struggling on very low income. Not surprisingly many suffer from mental health issues, behavioural problems and low self esteem. This is all made worse by the prevailing attitudes in society generally which is to medicalise autistic people's conditions making out that they are a problem to be managed.

 The strategy the government has come up with is completely insufficient to tackle these problems. For instance, training public sector workers in how to communicate with autistic people so they can understand is vital but the strategy simply talks about adding it on to existing diversity training *and* without any new funding. Again, instead of helping to deal with the barriers that autistic people specifically encounter in work - such as overstimulating environments, difficulty understanding what people are trying to tell them, lack of routine in the way work is structured, confusing physical environments - the government wants to have employment support for autistic people done under existing programmes aimed at the mentally ill, which are meant for a completely different set of needs (although mental health problems are unfortunately common among autistic people). That gives you a flavour of how perfunctory all this is.

And all this is happening in the context of huge public spending cuts, a crackdown on benefits for disabled people, the splitting up of the NHS into GP consortia (which will probably lead to many of them being hived off to the private sector), the fragmentation of education (with academies and free schools probably being far less tolerant of disabled children) and so forth.
We're trying to intervene via lobbying at the regional and sub-regional level in the hope we can encourage good practice in specific areas. However we also want to push our cause into the public arena and hope that a protest of autistic people, parents and other relatives, disability rights activists and other sympathetic campaigners (eg trade unionists working in public services) might help to publicise the issue.

Roderick Cobley
Chair, London Autistic Rights Movement
London Autistic Rights Movement (LARM)  07594 578152  

If you can attend this event please let Roderick know

Posted via email from Editor's posterous

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