National Autism Project – Progress Report – July/August 2016

The traditional holiday months did not see a slowdown in activity for NAP. The research work at LSE is now just about completed and the equally hard work of turning this into a report and recommendations has now started. We now have a good idea of the principles underpinning our conclusions and the major themes of the report but we have yet to get input and support from the Autistic Advisory Panel that meets on October 6th and the Strategy Board that meets on October 11th. After those meetings we expect to have a clear idea of how the report will look and the work of assembling the information can start in earnest. In this task we will be guided by our Experts, and our partners, Incisive Health, will help with extracting messages and making sure that the report is not only authoritative but readable by our target audiences.

In our last progress report to you we announced the postponement of the launch of the Project Report until early 2017 because of the Brexit referendum and the ensuing political uncertainty. We plan to use the additional time to strengthen the report by conducting workshops in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London to examine how the emerging recommendations could be implemented in each of the four nations of the UK. We believe that proposals for increased investment will be more readily accepted by policy makers and funders if we can also show by what means this can be done and point to their potential benefits, both social and economic. Planning for these workshops is now in hand, with target dates in the first half of November. This will leave sufficient time for outputs from the workshops to be included in the final report.

During recent months we have continued to meet representatives of organisations involved in research funding or service provision in autism, to introduce NAP and make them aware of the progress of the project. The meetings with responsible individuals in government departments have been particularly valuable in increasing our understanding of their thinking. Our recommendations, while challenging, are not intended to be confrontational but to be useful to such bodies in their future decision making.

The postponement of the launch of the report was a major decision for us so we are very pleased to announce that we have a new date for the London launch. This will take place in the House of Lords on January 17th 2017 and we are delighted that Lord Keith Bradley has agreed to sponsor the event. Soon after, as we had always planned, there will be launches in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh but dates for these remain to be decided.

Ian Ragan
September 2016

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