Could disability be more about society's reaction to people than their medical conditions? That's the view of a local charity, who have several ideas on how to help islanders with autism reach their full potential.
From forever homes to school support, Autism Jersey's Head of Children’s Services Niki Cross, Head of Adult Services Danielle Wharton, and Head of Operational Services Lionel Gomes have put forward five improvements that could be made locally.
Explaining Autism Jersey's aims, the group said: "The aim of the charity is to enable people on the autism spectrum to achieve their potential by advocating for an inclusive community and providing personalised services to the individuals, families and carers. We provide talks and training to increase the understanding and awareness of autism.
"Our goal is that as a society, we would not need to talk separately or specifically about autism, because people living with autism would just be fully accepted and integrated into every aspect of our island life, without it being misunderstood or challenged as different. We have considered five key themes that, as a charity we campaign for and that as an island community, we should be better at providing, that will enable us to reach a vision of complete integration within our community..."
We would like to see a greater awareness of autism across all sectors.
Pictured: Autism Jersey fundraisers.
For example, police, schools, customer and local services, entertainment establishments and activity centres should have reasonable adjustments in place to accommodate the needs of autistic individuals.
The need for exclusion within/from schools should be eliminated.
Pictured: Autism Jersey advocates inclusion not exclusion at school.
This could be achieved with an island-wide behaviour strategy, including Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) in all schools and educational facilities to support individuals who may have social communication barriers.
Individuals with autism require safe, adequate, affordable and appropriate accommodation choices.
Pictured: Making a house a permanent home is especially important for islanders with autism, as moving can be stressful.
Appropriate forever homes for islanders with autism are really important, as moving home can be extremely challenging, and cause lots of anxiety.
Let's change the way we look at disability, and consider it in a social context.
Pictured: Disability needs to be considered in a social context, and islanders should think about how to remove barriers to opportunity.
In legislation and practice, we are seeing a move away from functional/medical models of disability which tend to conceptualise disability as an impairment or deficit and move toward a social model of disability which says that disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person's impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for people with disabilities.
Autistic people make excellent employees with the right support, some adjustments and the opportunity to make it a reality.
Pictured: There's a "ready and willing" workforce out there - if employers simply see the opportunity.
We need to raise awareness not only for prospective employees but also within the general population of the exceptional talents not being utilised. Every year we see individuals become disheartened and deskilled as they have nowhere to transfer those amazing skills to. There is a ready and willing workforce that desperately wants gainful employment.
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