By bobb |

Nicholas Eugene Glover
Autistic Elder: National Autistic Community Connect Developer.

Hopefully, sometime in March 2024, the Government will release its Draft Autism Strategy document. This Strategy will affect more than half a million Autistic lives (2024).

The U.K. released their first National Strategy in 2010. So we are a fair way behind in this regard. Hence, the Australian Autism Strategy needs to be sound, transparent, very well-thought-out, well funded, and ambitious. Autistic people need to have the opportunity to review the Draft Strategy.

The main themes the Strategy must address include:

1) The pervasive and deep-seated 'Marginality status' of the Autistic Community. It's hard to think that we actually even have a viable Autistic Community. Marginality disempowers an affected people in how they might be able to then function as part of and to collectively mobilize as a Community. Especially a Community that has the agency and capacity to support its own 'members'.

2) One cannot improve Autistic well-being without addressing Autistic marginality, including a deep sense of exclusion, and deep fear that Australian Society will not accept us.

3) Next, the infrastructure capacity in Australia, to enable access to, say, Autism related support groups currently only meets about 1-3% of our Autistic population. There needs far more capacity, and much better designed and delivered support groups all over Australia (both online and live). This also means the need for a much bigger and better educated 'Autism workforce'

4) The 'service environment' (for Autistic people) here is ultra fragmented, silo like, outdated, and without proper and accountable standards. Furthermore, Autistic people have too little say in how these services are designed, or how they need to deliver 'meaningful opportunities or outcomes' for Autistic people. That too must change radically so.

5) Furthermore, 60-75% of Autistic people suffer from Trauma. This includes Trauma from our past, from exclusion, from how we are often mistreated in Schools, Workplaces, etc. One can add on, profound social neglect and indifference to Autistic Lived Experience, including very poor public attitudes that perpetuate non-acceptance.

We need a Trauma Informed Strategy to have any realistic change of changing these negative (Autistic Community) narratives and poor 'lifeworld' outcomes.

6) Another critical thing to look for in the Strategy is how it will go about resourcing Autistic people so they can connect with, and support, each other. So that we can become collectively empowered, and find a meaningful Autistic-led ways forward. Also, how 'deficit' descriptions of us must end.

7) Lastly, we need our own National 'Autistic Community' organization (with elected leadership). The Voice of the Autistic nation.

The Autism Strategy must address these key policy and reform areas, amongst many other critical systemic issues.