Saturday, December 16, 2017

National Autistic Taskforce

Life of late has had its ups and downs, and I have certainly been feeling both precarious and gloomy with the shortening days.

However there are some exceptions, and earlier this week I was in London, for the launch of an important new project called the National Autism Taskforce at the House of Lords no less.

My colleague and fellow Birmingham Alumnus Damian Milton sums up the aims in his speech here.

Why it is of so much importance to me, as although this might not be the first Autistic led project out there, we have had Autscape since 2005 and there was ANI at least a decade before that, is because this is the first that I am aware of which has had it's launch in such an auspicious public setting, with members of the NAS and Autistica present as well as well as politicians so nobody can pretend to be unaware of us. We are not hidden behind the curtains any more.

It was also good to see Professor Emeritus Rita Jordan there from Birmingham, another old sparring partner as it were from my first days at Birmingham back in 2002 (so long ago now).

Dinah Murray is also a key figure, without whom this would not have happened, undoubtedly one of the key figures in the history of Autism in the UK who recieved a well deserved lifetimes award from the NAS this year.

I also think we have to thank Dame Steve Shirley who might seem to be an unlikely figure in this, given the way things stood a decade or so back. I can remember however hearing her speak about her attitude to funding and wanting to see concrete results from whatever she was investing her charitable funds into, and in that respect she has not changed, which is why it is so gratifying that she is funding this project, led by a group of Autistic people who are not known for not being "neurodivertistas" who are certainly not going to give any ideological ground on the goal which we are seeking, which amongst other things is to bring the Government and agencies to account for the shocking failure to implement a set of policies which have been built into law, which are supposed to safeguard vulnerable autistic people, who have lacked the advantages and access to advocacy that they should have had.

So it is not a project about us, it is a project about what we can do with our expertise and knowlege to make real changes.

Yes Tuesday 12th of December 2017 was a very important day for Autism and I am as chuffed as the proverbial bowl of badger fat to be a part of it.

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