For months we’ve been undertaking our strategic planning process, with our 5-year plan launching at the end of autism acceptance month on 29th April 2022.
Throughout setting our strategic objectives with our lived experience community and stakeholders, the ‘why’ we exist was at the very heart. Autism & Neurodiversity; a world of fulfilling and happy lives for those who think differently.
Imagine when a child is born, we notice differences from that of a typically developing child. The parents are supported to understand instantly how and why their child is neurodivergent, and how to parent differently. They receive specialist information on accessible services designed specifically for neurodivergent children, and independent advice on how to create the best possible conditions and environment to help them thrive.
Imagine the child is developing, in their own unique way, with their parents and the community understanding and embracing their neurological difference.
Imagine the parents are supported to help them raise their neurodivergent child, share experiences, aspirations and challenges with other parents of neurodivergent children. They feel a sense of belonging in the community and have a strong support network.
Imagine the child goes with their parents to a supermarket and struggles with sensory overload. The people around them recognise and understand neurological differences, and the parents experience supportive, compassionate, and understanding responses.
Imagine the child is successful in their learning and education. They are supported in a way that meets their unique neurological differences, ensuring they have opportunities to meet their potential and experience belonging with their peers.
Imagine the parents have jobs they love, if they so choose, and enjoy strong and loving relationships, and have a balanced, happy family life.
Now imagine this child as an adult. They work in an organisation that embraces and enables their uniqueness. Their employer views neurological differences as assets and works with them to create the right environments to help them thrive and benefit society.
Imagine this neurodivergent adult has caring and loving relationships and a strong support network. They move into their own place and live a fulfilled and happy life.
It doesn’t sound unreasonable, does it? That’s why we exist.
Sadly, many autistic and neurodivergent people and their families are not living fulfilling and happy lives, with long waits for autism assessments, a general lack of understanding of autism and neurodiversity, limited specialised services and financial support, to name but a few of the reasons.
Because the right support is not provided at the right time, the family might break down and the child is placed away from family, in residential care, averaging £4,000 per week per child. But this could be easily prevented at a quarter of the cost for 7 day-a-week specialist support provided in the family home and community by our charity.
While the financial cost is astounding, it’s the human cost to individuals and families that is truly devastating.
We could, and do, argue about who should pay for services, whose budget, whose responsibility, and what criteria people need to meet. While this is happening, little, if anything, improves for autistic and neurodivergent people and their families.
The more support and funds we raise to realise our vision, the more autistic and neurodivergent people and their families will live fulfilled and happy lives in the North of Scotland. The ‘imagine’ becomes a reality.