I have a close personal interest in issues that affect autistic people and the wider neuro-divergent community, as well as a professional interest having previously chaired the Education Select Committee. As a result of this interest, alongside a cross-party, cross-sector group of Parliamentarians, autistic people, parents/carers, academics and health professionals, I set up the Westminster Commission on Autism in 2016. The aim of the Commission is to produce evidence-based policy recommendations that help create a more autism-friendly world to improve quality of life for autistic people.
The Commission has reconvened to produce a third report titled “Support Surrounding Diagnosis: An inquiry into pre- and post- support for the Autism Diagnosis Pathway.” The report was produced by taking evidence from over 600 members of the autism community including self-advocates, academics and health professionals. The Commission fundamentally believes in the power of policy and practice being genuinely centred on autistic people’s voices and those of their families.
The period surrounding an autism diagnosis is often stressful and uncertain. For the sake of autistic individuals and their families, easy access to the right support is vital. Yet for many people, their needs are not met. Seeking an autism diagnosis should be a helpful process rather than a source of additional stress. We must listen to what autistic people are telling us about what they need. Our recommendations should not be viewed as a criticism of the organisations working hard to offer support but instead we suggest how support can be best organised to make it easily accessible to those who need it.
The report will be launched on Tuesday 2nd November 2021 at 1pm and will take place on Zoom. The event will feature discussion from members of the Westminster Commission on Autism, the Centre of Applied Autism Research, the John and Lorna Wing Foundation as well as featuring contributions from people with lived experience of the support available to those seeking an autism diagnosis.
The panel is set to include:
- Huw Merriman MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism,
- Helen Ellis an autistic member of the Westminster Commission on Autism,
- Dr Ailsa Russell and Professor Mark Brosnan from the University of Bath, Centre of Applied Autism Research.
Strong participation from MPs, academics and members of the neuro-divergent community are vital if the report is to reach its full potential of change to benefit those seeking support in all stages of their diagnosis for autism.
If you have any questions about the event, please direct them to either Amy Hibbert (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Aaron Horsley (email@example.com) and they will be able to assist you.
You can register for the event with the following link – Meeting Registration – Zoom – I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday 2nd November.