The Scottish Strategy for Autism
In the introduction to the dissertation, it was noted that – having taken account of the research done by Knapp et al. (2009), which found that the cost of supporting an adult with Aspergers Syndrome (hereafter “AS”) over a lifetime was in the region of £1.23M – the Scottish Government launched The Scottish Strategy on Autism (“The Strategy”) in 2011.
The purpose of The Strategy was to consolidate work done over the previous decade and to ensure that people “on the spectrum” are provided with required services at every stage of life. Amongst other aspects, The Strategy consists of 26 “Recommendations” and of these, Recommendations 5 and 26 deal particularly with Employment.
In order to deliver The Strategy, a number of sub-groups were set up, including one dedicated to “Employment”. After a later re-arrangement of sub-groups into working groups, the dedicated Employment sub-group was disbanded and employment issues are now required to be considered by all working groups, as they impinge on their area of concern.
For more information on The Strategy, please follow this link:
Language In Autism Discourse
Before launching into the body of the dissertation, it was necessary to explain how language related to disability and autism was going to be used, since this is a contentious issue for all concerned.
I approached the issue in this way:
In autism discourse and in discourses about groups in society that might be described as “othered” (a concept defined by de Beauvoir(1949)) , language use is usually significant. In autism discourse, “autism spectrum disorder” is indicative of a belief that AS is an impairment, while “autism spectrum condition” (supposedly) connotes its interpretation as a “difference”.
More vituperative assertions are made about whether a person who has AS regards him/herself as being a “person with Aspergers” or an “Aspergic person”. The former designation uses “person-first language” (Durand, (2014, p.6)) seeing the person before the “condition” but seems to be contrary to language used to describe other groups of people who are apparently not in the mainstream of society (we don’t say “a person with gayness”) and who are “proud” of their “difference”: for that reason many people on the autistic spectrum prefer the latter terminology.
The problem with this terminology though, seems to arise when the specific “conditional” term (“Aspergers”) is conflated with the generic term “disability” and we do say “disabled person” in line with the social model of disability (see below). While this discussion may seem to be a matter of grammar and semantics, it lies at the heart of the social model (“Aspergic”, like “gay”, is an adjective, describing a characteristic and “disabled” is an adverb, describing something that has been done to a person) and a deeper exploration than there is space for here could be fruitful in revealing relationships between groups that have been “othered” by mainstream society. In this dissertation, person-first language is used because it is preferred and is in line with the social model of disability.
(Although person-first language (and what it implies) is important to me, I should note that I think of “Aspergic/Autistic” as being a self-affirming use of language, if it is used to convey my own understanding of AS as being a non-pejorative characteristic, similar to the way I understand “Black” and “Gay” to be used by most people. However, whether these terms are used pejoratively, or unthinkingly, depends on context and on who is using them).
For more information on language use, please follow these links:
(the above link found on the Scottish Autism Research Group website)
(a link to recent research on language by The National Autistic Society, The Royal College of GPs and The UCL Institute of Education – I have not read this yet).
Having dealt with the two preliminary issues of current autism services and language use, the dissertation proper was begun, and will be reported on in future postings to this website.
Here, I will only add the Bibliography for the whole dissertation: any references in future postings will relate to the following bibliography. It might be of use to those interested in the subjects discussed.
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Aylott, J., Philips, K., McLimens, A., 2008 “They would have sacked me anyway”: the real barriers to employment for people with Asperger’s syndrome. Good Autism Practice (GAP) 9, 32–39.
Baldwin, S., Costley, D., Warren, A., 2014a. Employment Activities and Experiences of Adults with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 44, 2440–2449. doi:10.1007/s10803-014-2112-z
Baldwin, S., Costley, D., Warren, A., 2014b. Employment Activities and Experiences of Adults with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 44, 2440–2449. doi:10.1007/s10803-014-2112-z
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