Tonight was my last council committee. And it was Adult Social Care, Children’s Services and Education Committee. An important committee to finish on. Full Agenda available here.
Available to watch online below:
In this meeting, I was pleased to welcome the formation of the Autism Board alongside the key partners across the Health, Educational and Voluntary Sector. They will be working to produce Reading’s Autism Strategy.
I was pleased to welcome this work and also provide scrutiny and input into their work on the development of a new Autism Strategy. I queried the following;
- How they would make the board accessible for all autistic people, especially the importance of including non-verbal autistic people.
- How they would report on their work post strategy, in the implementation stage.
- How they would factor in intersectionality on the board e.g. Autism and Race to ensure the validity of the strategy in representing the wide spectrum of autistic people and include how other factors intersect with autism affecting life outcomes, access etc. Using an example from the US, I explained the impact of narrow representation of autism and lack of inclusion.
- In my recent visit, to parenting special children, a charity in Reading. I learnt about the vast waiting times for diagnosis and the challenge this poses. Therefore, I asked how the board’s work will consider the long-durations to obtain diagnosis and the mental health impact of this on children and adult with autism and their families, care givers and their wider network.
- How the various services will work together to provide the support and how this will be funded.
I also challenged the language and approach they would use and encouraged them to move away from terms like low and high functioning and a deficit model and approach. This felt important for me to voice as a councilor speaking up for others but also as an autistic person myself.
They said they will be able to tap into the pot of money made available from central government’s national autism strategy and use it to ensure the unmet needs for the cohort of the population is met.
I was pleased with their responses and the fact they are going to work in partnership with the autistic community to co-produce the strategy and I look forward to reading the draft report when its shared in July. However, I will be more excited to see the work implemented in future to ensure the unmet needs of autistic children, adult, parents of autistic children are met.