Share Magazine Summer 2020
Letter from the Editor
Since its inception Share magazine has sought to consider change and innovation in autism support practice. Yet even as the last issue was published, few of us at Scottish Autism could have envisaged the pace and scale at which we would have to change the way we work in 2020. As I write this editorial the country has been in lockdown for nine weeks owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. This has been a period of extreme anxiety and stress for many autistic people and those around them as regular services, routines and sources of social support have no longer been available.
The long term implications for support provision may not be clear for some time, but in this issue we include some immediate reflections on the challenges supported autistic people and those that support them have faced. Yet we also hope that the articles will provide some hope for the future – in the resilience shown by many in the autistic community, in the creativity with which practitioners have adapted their support provision, and in the possibilities offered by positive dialogue and policy change described by our guest contributors.
In this issue Alexander Edwards and Daniel Page, two autistic people supported by Scottish Autism, reflect on the particular challenges that they have faced during lockdown, and ways that they have found to cope. As Alexander recounts, disruption to routine can be particularly difficult for autistic people, particularly when those people are isolated from their friends and regular support staff.
From a different perspective, Meagan McConnachie and Katie Davies, two of our Senior Autism Practitioners, describe ways that services have sought to provide a semblance of continuity for supported people and to maintain social networks and communities.
The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted serious social inequalities and gaps in service provision in the UK. Policy-making after the crisis will not just be focused on preparing and dealing with pandemics, but on addressing these stark inequalities. In their contribution to the issue, Charlene Tait of Scottish Autism and Nick Ward of the National Autistic Society Scotland argue for the establishment of an Autism Commissioner for Scotland to advocate for the rights of autistic people. Moving forward through the crisis and adjusting to the world after lockdown will also require consensus and community-building among the autism community. Here, Jonathan Drury reports on Autism Dialogue – a method and organisation aimed at facilitating exchanges of perspective. Autism Dialogue has met growing demand through a shift online during the crisis, yet its possibilities go much further. In that spirit of dialogue we offer these reflections as part of a wider discussion on how policy and practice can respond to the needs of autistic people in times of crisis and beyond.
If you would prefer to read Share offline you can download a PDF of the magazine here.