As well as my title piece, which as promised yesterday, is about the meeting in Dereham organised by Autism Anglia and ASD Helping Hands that I attended this morning. Karan and I were a little late arriving as she could not leave before the person who would be looking after her son had arrived and I had arranged a meet up point at The Gatehouse since while I was definitely up for the meeting I was not up for forking out the £11 it would have cost to me travel there and back under my own steam (at some point I will be putting up a post on public transport that will highlight why this particular shortish journey is so extortionate – for the moment suffice to say it has nothing to do with logic, reason, meeting passenger needs or anything else that has any place in the proper running of a public transport system). This meant that although we were able to introduce ourselves we missed most of the other people’s introductions.
The meeting had been arranged to discuss amendments to an autism strategy document which as it stood was laughably incomplete. Autism Anglia and ASD Helping Hands were effectively doing the kind of outreach stuff that Norfolk County Council should have been doing but weren’t. The County Council’s own meetings about such matters are invariably in Norwich, generally with a requirement that one arrive by 9:30. Before moving on to NAS West Norfolk’s role in the events of this meeting I will mention two things from the preliminary talk that caused hackles to raise. First, Norfolk County Council’s person responsible for co-ordinating matters relating to autism appears to have his fingers in a suspiciously large number of pies, and extending from this seems to be overly averse to scrutiny (as a West Norfolk resident who has the incinerator debacle seared on his memory I am naturally inclined to be mistrustful where Norfolk County Council are concerned – although we eventually won that one and the thing did not get built). Secondly there is the role of Norfolk Steps, who seem to have a monopoly on training provision for parents and carers and to be very reluctant to see that change – one person at the meeting had tried to use their materials to provide training and was told to desist. Another strike against Norfolk Steps from our point of view is that their training is not autism specific.
The key pages of the inadequate document that we were trying to improve were pages 16-19, and there was little we could do about what was on page 16, so as we seated around three tables each table was assigned a page to look at and make additions to. Ours was page 18:
I have already covered a lot of the problems with Norfolk Steps, but there is one extra point – they have recently had their funding reduced, and no longer offer “steps plus” to parents.
There were a few additions to point 5, which started our page. Point 6 was the single most inadequately expressed point in the whole sorry document. For this point to be worth the ink and paper it has to contain chapter and verse – the specific Act of Parliament and the specific clauses contained therein that are of most relevance.
Anne Ebbage of Autism Anglia will be passing all the points raised at this meeting on to the council, and if the final version of this document is not massively changed and enlarged there will be trouble.
This was a very useful and productive meeting, and I hope it will play a role in dragging Norfolk’s approach to autism and autistic people out of the dark ages wherein it seems to have been stuck for some time.
A SEGUE LINK
The first part of this post has been about autism, and so I introduce the remainder of it by way of a link to an interesting piece by The Inked Autist. My views are rather different to those expressed in this post, but I recommend that you read it here.
A BUSY WEEK FOR DPAC
That title is no overstatement – this section contains a link to a post on the DPAC website and two embedded videos.
The post, which gives this section of this post its title, can be accessed by clicking the DPAC logo below. Then you can find the two videos, which are both about a protest outside Parliament. The first video was created by Let Me Look TV, the second by Steve Topple of The Canary.
I had planned to include more stuff in this post, but a malfunction has prevented that – I have just lost a large amount of stuff that was in here and have no way of getting back, so here are the photographs.