This post is a little different. Tonight I am asking for support for a petition calling for our government here in Scotland to do more for autistic people and families. It’s not an easy post to make in the sense that I have contacts – some of whom I might even class as friends or people I respect that work with or for the Scottish Government. Similarly I have many friends who are political supporters of the current Scottish Government. While I respect other views on the Scottish Autism Strategy, I certainly don’t agree with them all.
If you work with the strategy I don’t expect you to agree but I would ask you to reflect on the difference between your position and that of people who rely on autism support services. The goals set out are loose and vague and fail to be demonstrable beyond isolated examples of small , sporadic improvements in resources that are proving to be unsustainable (One stop shops) and underused (much of the menu of interventions). There has been no major change as to how we deliver services to those living with autism or improvements in the numbers receiving adequate or any support. The post code lottery still exists across our authorities and in many cases the situation is worse , not better than when the strategy was launched in 2011. E.G. reduction and scrapping of specialist disability social workers, the emphasis of assessments being transferred to already overwhelmed education professionals, the reduction in respite services. I am unaware of specific improvements for any particular age groups and the absolute failure to provide services for young adults/ adults on the autistic spectrum remains as it was. Of course a strategy approach is (conveniently) much less likely to have influence than a legislative change and in that respect many feel they were short changed. The strategy has been heavily involved in guidance for professionals employed in autism services but sadly light in meaningful, measurable and practical improvements in support services and resources.
I believe that the needs of autistic people are far too important to simply say nothing. I have serious doubts that the current request for feedback from ‘stakeholders ‘ from the Scottish Government is a process capable of objectivity and proper critical analysis. I believe that 7 years into a 10 year failing plan we are at the last stage possible of salvaging anything of serious worth in making real impact and improvements for those living with autism.
Please consider reading, signing and sharing my petition.