The sixth and final meeting of the NAP Strategy Board met on October 12th in Oxford. The three year project officially finishes at the end of December, so it was a time to reflect on past success but also to review recent activities and to look to the future. During the summer, meetings were held with various government departments in London to bring major concerns to their attention as we reported elsewhere (PROGRESS REPORT July – August 2017). We are still waiting for responses from the departments concerned so we have not yet published these on the website. The Board also discussed plans for other events such as the parliamentary drop in and the Funder’s Forum, and these are reported on the EVENTS section of the website.
The most significant discussion was around the legacy of NAP and how it might be maintained. The Board’s view was that the NAP report “The Autism Dividend: Reaping the Rewards of Better Investment” would remain relevant and useful for several more years and therefore it was in our (and autism’s) interests to keep its recommendations at the forefront of policy and research decision making. Admittedly, the campaigning banner would be passed on to other organisations but NAP could still play a role in the future. The idea of a NAP Legacy Forum had been proposed and was accepted by the board. This will involve an annual or biannual meeting of the relevant individuals and organisations, under the auspices of NAP, to review progress on the recommendations of the NAP report. In parallel, the NAP Autistic Advisory Panel will become an independent body (The National Autistic Taskforce) whose mission will be to help turn the promises of legislation and policy into practical realities for those people who are unable to defend their own rights and interests – (what has been termed “The Other Half” of the autistic community) and who lack an effective voice but still depend on support services. The next meeting of the Autistic Advisory Panel on November 6th will be devoted to planning the organisation and activities of “NAT”. The Board agreed that these two initiatives would operate in parallel under the NAP banner.
These developments give a different flavour to what we have loosely termed our farewell event in the House of Lords on December 12th. While of course we intend to thank all those who have contributed to the success of NAP, we shall be looking forward more than back, using the meeting to launch NAT and the Legacy Forum, and hoping to enthuse others to build on the work that we have done over the last three years.