York Health and Care Partnership are going to harm Autistic adults
Let me start by being candid. This is the third time in the past seven days that I have had to write an article like this. We’ve had an expose on the inhuman treatment of Autistic people in psychiatric inpatient units and let’s not forget that NHS Trusts in the south-west of England adding criteria to deny Autistic children assessment. Now, it seems that York Health and Care Partnership are taking some lessons in the same approach but for adult referrals.
I first came across this issue thanks to this article at York Disability Rights Forum.
There are three new, and very extreme, criteria being added to referrals for adult autism and ADHD assessments, that effectively mean the vast majority of assessments will be refused. The referral criteria are as follows:
These criteria are unacceptable, and will endanger the wellbeing of huge numbers of undiagnosed Autistic adults, who have been forced to survive childhood without access to their own identity already. The partnership is offering a self-assessment to people who do not meet this criteria which will not be diagnostically valuable, or provide access to things like medication for ADHD’ers. It will also not suffice as proof of disability for the benefits system.
I understand that with referrals skyrocketing, a heavy toll has been taken on diagnostic services. This does not make it okay to deny disabled people access to the validation and support that can come from diagnosis. At a time when the NHS should be demonstrating its importance, it is instead breaking the oath of “do no harm”.
Harmful doesn’t even feel like a strong enough word for this. Autistic people are significantly more likely to die by suicide. This is going to compound that. They claim this is a three month pilot programme. What are the intended outcomes? Of course, this will reduce the number of referrals, but we are sacrificing real people in the name of protecting budgets. Human life does not have a monetary value. We are not a commodity. We are living breathing creatures with complex inner worlds and feelings.
The fact that all of these stories are breaking in the lead up to autism acceptance month is not lost on me. The NHS has made it clear that there is no autism acceptance beyond what their budget will allow. If too many of us exist for them, they will just pretend we don’t exist. This is what happens when universal health care is run on business models. Human lives become less valuable than annual reports that earn you a financial bonus.
I am so done with this. I’m not just taking this lying down, and neither should you. We are a proud and supportive community of neurodivergent people, and we will have the last say on how we are treated. Whether you have a diagnosis or not, you are one of us, and I will fight for you.