One thing I’ve noticed over the last 20 years is that we are more aware than we used to be of autistic spectrum disorders and the pressures that there are both on people with ASDs and their families. No-one yet seems to have come up with conclusive evidence to explain whether there has been a genuine increase in the incidence of autism, or whether we are just getting a lot better at recognising something that had always been there.
Anyway, one issue that’s come up again and again with parents of autistic children is that while the Special educational Needs system can provide welcome support during the school years, the social security system is much less responsive to the particular situation of autistic adults.
So when a constituent came to see me about the impact on autistic people of the introduction of Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) and recent changes to the Work Capability Assessment for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) I took this up with Maria Miller MP, Minister for Disabled People .
Maria’s reply says that the assessment criteria for PIP are being designed to take account of the lessons learned from Work Capability Assessments. In particular, “the introduction of communication and social engagement [as elements of the assessment criteria] is a significant departure from Disability Living Allowance and one that will ensure we take better account of the effectb of impairments of hearing, speech, language comprehension, mental health and cognition”.
This is all welcome and there is still time for individuals and organisations to comment on the proposed assessment criteria since the consultation on them is open until the end of April. Further details are available HERE. The second draft of the criteria on which the consultation is being held can be found HERE.