Friday, 15 February 2008

National Autistic Society 'I Exist' campaign - letter to MP

The UK National Autistic Society are running a campaign called 'I Exist' about the lack of adult services. The website allowed users to send an automatic letter to their MP, worked out by entering a postcode.

Standard text began:
I am writing to you because I am concerned that adults with autism, especially Asperger's Syndrome, in (town name would be shown here) are not getting the support and services that they need. Most adults with autism are isolated and ignored, are unable to access the right support, and are often completely dependent on their families.

Autism is a lifelong condition but most people have little or no support through their adult life. 63% of adults with autism do not have enough support to meet their needs, 61% rely on their families for financial support, and 40% still live with their parents. The Government, local authorities and health services do not know how many adults with autism there are. Staff assessing and supporting adults do not receive training in autism, and many adults do not fit the current criteria for any support.

There was then space to add persoanlised text so I entered:
I am 36 with a moderate condition of Asperger's Syndrome, and believe I am very capable of work, such that I would not be classed as "incapable" in terms of an Incapacity claimant. However find it so difficult to find a suitable role when so many job adverts ask for people with "good / excellent communication skills", not to mention that the pyschological nature of interviews also penalises people with this condition with such a heavy emphasis on selling oneself.

I would particularly like to see more proactive assistance from JobcentrePlus to help with introducting able adults with Asperger to prospective employers, making them aware of the disability but at the same time promoting the applicants' positive talents too. My own case is I have particularly good skills with computers and numeracy, I would be well suited to work in Finance (have done some temporary positions) or Software Programming (had experience before but on an old platform) however am excluded from many roles by the requirement for direct contact with customers. It would help to have someone to negotiate such job specifications as I often wonder how many employers could adjust their roles within teams such that someone with Asperger could actually be accommodated.

Standard text continued:
For adults to fulfil their potential, the Government must give priority to autism, remove barriers to support and understand and meet the needs of the many people who have been ignored for too long.

Specifically, I believe that the Government should:
- fund a study to find out how many adults with autism live in the UK. This information is essential to plan policy and services to meet their needs.

As my MP, I would like you to write to the Secretary of State for Health to ask for him to look into funding for this study and to respond to the campaign. I hope that you agree with me that it is about time changes were made locally and nationally to provide a better future for all people with autism.

In addition, to support The National Autistic Society’s campaign, please:
- raise these issues in parliament and sign the Early Day Motion 861 (tabled by Emily Thornberry MP)
- encourage your colleagues on the Health Select Committee to hold an inquiry into autism
- write to your Director of Adult Social Services to ask if a person or team has been appointed with responsibility for adults with autism spectrum disorders.

I look forward to receiving your reply. If you would like more information about our campaign, please call 020 7923 5799 (voicemail) or email

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