The government is developing new plans to provide mandatory autism training to all health and social care staff.
But it looks like the reality of implementation will fall below the ambitions of the original consultation.
Then, it was said that “people with lived experience (of autism) should be involved in the delivery of training”. Even that was a watered down version of demands from autistic people that the training be “autistic-led”.
The end result looks like a training package delivered by a litany of third sector organisations, combined with NHS trusts. Very few of those could honestly claim to be organisations made up of autistic people.
One key partner, the National Autistic Society, has received criticism for the failed running of a care home where vulnerable residents were abused, and takes a “neutral” position on the use of therapeutic approaches like Applied Behavioural Analysis which are heavily criticised by Neurodivergent Labour among others.
The new mandatory training is called Oliver McGowan Training, named after a young autistic man who died in hospital after an allergic reaction to anti-psychotic medication, despite him informing the staff that he could have a bad reaction.
It follows a campaign by Oliver’s family, and a period of consultation by the government. And it would mean positive improvements in the treatment of autistic people within health and social care services. But as the training package is being developed and trialled the government has revealed the partners it has commissioned to deliver the training nationally.
It seems that a motto of the disability rights movement, “nothing about us, without us” is being stretched to the extreme here. The issues autistic (and other neurodivergent) people face will not be solved until efforts towards self-representation are realised.
Neurodivergent Labour will be intervening where possible to raise these criticisms, and as the training gets closer to being fully rolled out we will be encouraging our comrades, including health workers, to educate themselves and critically engage with their workplace’s training.