Why has the National Autistic Taskforce been established?
Over the past two decades, a number of new laws, policies and guidelines have been introduced to give autistic people more personal autonomy and choice. But autistic people and their families and carers know that too often the reality does not match the rhetoric. Many of the gaps in provision were highlighted in The Autism Dividend, a comprehensive study of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of autism interventions, undertaken by the National Autism Project and published in January 2017.
The report found that government policy, support and services are often not based on sufficient evidence, that research to find out what services work best is underfunded, and that decision makers often do not understand that providing better services could help save money. The report has been shared widely and formed the basis of a number of meetings and discussions with policy makers and research funders through 2017.
Critical to the success of the National Autism Project was an advisory panel of autistic people who provided expert input and critique throughout. To help build on the momentum of this positive experience, the National Autistic Taskforce was established to enable the voices and knowledge of autistic people to continue to impact national policy and local delivery.
NAT focusses particularly on issues of relevance to autistic people who are less able to advocate on their own behalf and seeks to ensure that autistic voices are heard alongside those of parents and professionals in promoting the rights, autonomy and needs of The Other Half.
How is the National Autistic Taskforce run?
NAT is entirely governed by autistic people and draws on the skills of a variety of autistic people (and occasionally a token neurotypical person) to contribute as needed to various projects. NAT was initially funded through an open grant from The Shirley Foundation.