The minor miracle of completing the draft NAP report in December was repeated in January and “The Autism Dividend: Reaping the Rewards of Better Investment” was launched as promised on 17th January. Descriptions of the launch events in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh are on our EVENTS page along with our reasons for postponing the similar event in Belfast. We have not forgotten about this and have ideas for the future as described below.
We have had many requests for copies of the report and reaction to it has been overwhelmingly but not universally favourable. Inevitably we have not pleased everyone and we have been accused of being too soft on things of which some people do not approve, and equally of being too hard on things that other people favour. But we have chosen not to modify our conclusions since these were based not on weight of opinion but on weight of evidence.
Following the launch we were very pleased to have had an article by Becky McCall in the World Report section of The Lancet on January 28th 2017 and this was followed by an Editorial in The Lancet Neurology of April 2017 . Both articles are now available free on-line by registering with the journal. Dr Yo Dunn, one of our Experts and a member of the Autistic Advisory Panel, wrote an excellent summary of the report for Community Care magazine, which can be found on our NEWS page.
The project now has less than 10 months to run and we are considering how to make the biggest impact and how to advance our recommendations to the greatest extent possible in the time remaining. After reflection, we believe that we should continue our campaigning at the highest possible level of policy making. While it would no doubt be effective to take our messages to local authorities and clinical commissioning groups who make decisions about the allocation of scarce resources, the latter originate from government departments which in addition control public investment in research. We also need to take account of our limited capacity to engage on several fronts. Therefore we will focus on the main government departments involved in research and service provision for health, education and employment, and find ways to do this in all four devolved nations of the UK. As an example, because of interest in our report from the Irish Republic, we are considering holding an all-Ireland meeting later this year to discuss the report and progress with its recommendations in the place of the previously proposed Belfast launch.
At our next Strategy Board meeting in April, we will I hope find a moment to congratulate ourselves on producing a first class report, but then we must get down to the important business of making it work for the autistic community