June 2007

Northern Ireland

The story continues.  On 19th June, the NI Assembly hosted the Launch of the Celtic Nations Autismcelticnations_logo.jpg Partnership. Key politicians and government ministers addressed an audience of local parents, representatives from statutory and voluntary agencies as well as officials from government departments. Honoured guests, in addition to our Celtic Partners in Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, included the Director and the President of the Autism Society of Sweden who talked about the Swedish experience of having ASD legislation since 1985! The event closed with a video clip of Hillary Clinton introducing a second piece of ASD legislation into the US Senate in March 2007.

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The scene was set! We were not disappointed! The First Minister (Dr Paisley) addressing the audience gave a powerful commitment to the introduction of ASD legislation. When and how are still unanswered questions. What we do know is that we are opening up hearts and minds by showing politicians and government officials what is possible, by positively provoking them through telling them how the UK and Ireland are becoming Third World countries within the Autism world. We are being left behind by countries that used to envy our Health and Social Care structures and provision. It is incredible to think that the country that gave us Lorna Wing, Judith Gould, Elizabeth Newson, Rita Jordan, Ros Blackburn, Simon Baron-Cohen, Patricia Howlin etc is being overtaken in terms of rights and access to services. The list of Autism friendly legislatures is growing . USA, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia. Where is the UK and Ireland?

How did this happen? Well, the lobby in each country was initiated and maintained by rank upon rank of local parents and professionals who refused to give up. Every time a parent became exhausted by the fight, another stepped up to fill that space. Are you that parent or professional that is exhausted now or are you the one that is about to step up to the plate? The system wins by wearing us down. But unless there is a cure for Autism just around the corner, future generations need us to be wise, strategic and enduring. So think how far we have come in just under 2 years and show your support.

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