Monday, 13 December 2010

Email from the President of SAFE (Supporting Asperger Families in Essex)

I am the President of SAFE (Supporting Asperger Families in Essex), a local charity run by unpaid volunteers like me.  I run ASAP (Asperger Syndrome Adults and Parents).

So far I have ten adult members in North Essex reporting that following a Work Capability Assessment, they have been taken off long-term Incapacity Benefit and have been declared 'fit for work' despite supporting evidence to the contrary from Consultants, social workers and GP's.  This has left these adults in a state of despair and their mental health has spiralled down into deep depression.  Their families are also badly affected.

It is all too obvious that the ATOS healthcare professionals who carry out these Assessments have had NO appropriate training in ASC, and are not taking this evidence into account when making their decisions.

This is a shocking and discriminatory tactic to force vulnerable autistic people into looking for work which is not there, and setting them up to fail, thus increasing their sense of low self esteem.

I am doing what I can to raise awareness of this issue in Essex and have advised people to appeal against these decisions with ATOS and the DWP, but I fear their understanding of autistic difficulties regarding employment is zero.   I am deeply concerned.
Keep up the good work!

Our reply to SAFE

We are almost speechless and certainly shocked and disgusted. We are however sadly not surprised. Would you like ACT NOW to flag up what has happened in Essex? Have you written to any Ministers about what has happened? Also would you mind if we added it to our list of cuts and changes please?

We have heard that the ATOS health care professionals are going to be given a training module on autism. We are at the moment trying to find out what that module will include and who put it together. However clearly these assessments are up and running without any training being given to these assessors and this really shows that they neither care nor feel any responsibility towards people with autism enough to get it right.

We are at the moment trying to set up an ACT NOW network and are asking people if they would be willing to be coordinators because we want to gather as much information as we possibly can about what is happening in every area across the UK. I know that that is a tall order but we currently have 6000 supporters so we are hoping that we get a good response from them.

Please do keep in touch with us. We all need to act together if we have any hope of being heard, and we are afterall the people who are living with autism 24/7.

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