Sarah and I lived over 100 miles apart with Sarah living in Rotherham and me living in Sunderland. The distance never proved to be a barrier for Autism-in-Mind or AIM as we are more commonly referred to as.
One of the first people who Sarah contacted and asked if they would be willing to be a Patron of Autism-in-Mind was Jenson Button. It was not to be, but as they say where I live 'she bairns get no cake'
On Monday October 21st the Push for Action Campaign made a stop at Rotherham this was followed on Tuesday October 22nd by a stop at Sunderland. The star of the show at both stops was a Button travelling under the name of Jenson Button. It kind of feels like Autism-in-Mind has gone full circle now and after some refection I have come to the conclusion that our journey has not been a waste of time.
There have been many changes since Autism-in-Mind was formed in 2000. It might not always feel that way, and we still have to fight for what we need on a daily basis, but campaigners have made some gains.
In 2000 we did not have a Manifesto for Autism. We do now. In 2000 we did not have an Autism Act. We do now. In 2000 we did not have an Autism Strategy and for the first time ever the Royal College of General Practitioners has agreed to make autism one of their learning priorities for the next three years. This is really good news because in 2009, 80% of GPs who responded to a National Audit Office survey, said that they did not know enough about autism. I really do believe that autism has a much higher profile in 2013 than it did back in the year 2000.
Awareness raising works. I think autism campaigners have proved that it does work.
That does not mean that we stop fighting for support, provision and services. But we need to stop trying to find ways to normalise people with autism. Raising awareness about the condition should not mean seeking ways to change a person. I love all three of sons for themselves and I would never seek to change them.