Inspiring Scotland and The Scottish Government will be working together on a new national programme to raise understanding of autism in Scotland. This announcement was made by Ms Claire Haughey, Minister for Mental Health, at the Scottish Strategy for Autism Seventh Annual Conference in Glasgow on the 26th March 2019. We welcome the Scottish Government’s focus on improving the lives of autistic people and are delighted to be a partner in that work.
This new programme of work is a direct response to The Scottish Government’s 2017 Engagement Exercise, which consulted with over 1,000 people – including autistic people, parents and carers and organisations. The consultation asked participants what changes need to be made for autistic people to enjoy healthier lives, have choice and control over services, live independently and be active citizens.
The feedback from participants involved in the Engagement Exercise overwhelmingly emphasised the need to raise understanding of autism.
One participant said that raising understanding of autism would contribute to the development of ‘a culture of empathy and understanding’ that will ‘help to integrate and support people with autism to engage as more active citizens’. It is this culture of empathy and understanding which we seek to build.
The consultation feedback was also clear that we need to shift public perception away from seeing autism as a ‘defect’ to seeing it as a ‘difference’, otherwise exclusion will continue.
One participant summed this up as people should be encouraged to see an autistic person’s ‘skills as well as their difficulties’ and to appreciate the ‘huge benefit people with ASD bring to society’.
As another participant said autistic people are ‘often even better at doing things than the rest of the public, simply because of their autism’.
We want to build a Scotland where everyone is accepted and valued for who they are. Where everyone’s talents are celebrated and where we are each given the encouragement and support to reach our potential.
Celia Tennant, Chief Executive of Inspiring Scotland said:
“We strive for a Scotland without poverty or disadvantage, and welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to improving the lives of autistic people. These steps aim to increase society’s understanding of autism, to move away from stereotypes and to make clear the many strengths autistic people bring to society.
“We are proud to be a partner in this programme and look forward to working with autistic people, charities and organisations to create change for autistic people in Scotland.”
This new programme will only be possible through collaboration. The autistic community, local and national charities and organisations will all be at the heart of this work as it progresses.
The full Scottish Government press release can be viewed here: https://news.gov.scot/news/increasing-support-for-those-with-autism
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