The Westminster Commission on Autism seeks to be as open, transparent and accessible as possible. As such, we welcome your questions, comments and feedback. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
“Why a Commission on Autism?”
A commission is a tried and tested model for influencing change. It is an opportunity to draw a group of key people together with parliamentarians to hold inquiries, hold evidence sessions, call for written evidence, write reports and produce recommendations for policy and practice. These inquiries will be time limited. The first inquiry will be on access to healthcare for people with autism. This inquiry is currently in the scoping stage.
Critically, a commission creates an opportunity to ensure that autistic individuals, charities, service providers, policy-makers, academics and health professionals can collaborate and work strategically in partnership with one another to see the world become a more autism friendly place!
“What’s the difference between a commission and an all-party parliamentary group on autism (APPGA)?”
‘An APPG is an informal group of Members (of Parliament or the Lords) who join together to pursue a particular topic or interest. It is essentially run by and for Members of the Commons and Lords, although many groups involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities.’
The all-party parliamentary group on autism is an active, well-established group with 200 parliamentarians as members. Membership is limited to parliamentarians alone. The group is uniquely placed to campaign for greater awareness of autism in parliament, lobby government for improved services and provide a useful platform for issues around autism to be debated and discussed. The National Autistic Society provides the secretariat to the APPGA. Cheryl Gillan MP is the Chair and the group is supported by an Advisory Group which is chaired by Dr Juli Crocombe.
In contrast, the commission has a mixed membership from across the autism community who will select specific inquiry topics, run time-limited inquiries, write reports and make recommendations. The commission is focused on seeing policy and practice change and this is why its Westminster focus is strategically important.
“What is the relationship between the Westminster Commission and the APPGA?”
The Chair of the APPGA (Cheryl Gillan MP) is a member of the commission and this vital relationship ensures that work is not replicated. The National Autistic Society, who provide the secretariat to the APPGA are also represented on the commission. The groups have their own mandates but both seek to see the world become a more autism friendly place!
“Who are the members of the commission?”
Alongside self-advocates and parent-advocates, the members of the Commission include Barry Sheerman MP, Cheryl Gillan MP (Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism), Steve McCabe MP, Tim Loughton MP, Baroness Uddin.
In addition, the membership includes representatives from Ambitious About Autism, Autism Alliance, Autism Plus, Autism Research Centre, Autism West Midlands, Autistica, Centre for Research in Autism and Education, Hesley Group, Hidden Impairment National Group, King’s College London, London South Bank University, National Autism Project, National Autistic Society, National Children’s Centre, NHS Confederation Mental Health Network, North East Autism Society, Research Autism, The Giving Tree Foundation, and the Royal College of GPs.
“Can I get involved?”
Yes please do! It is vital that every activity of the commission is guided and ratified by those who are autistic or are parents who are advocating for autistic individuals who cannot do so themselves. We are delighted to have self-advocates and parent-advocates on our membership. We will also be making use of focus groups, round table discussion groups and interviews/surveys. Please share your ideas/experiences/expertise with us.
“Is this your website?”
No. Our website is currently under construction.
“How can I get in touch?”
Please get in touch with our National Strategy Coordinator, Emily Christou at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Who is funding this commission?”
The commission is being funded by an independent charity with no previous involvement in the autism sector. This helps to ensure that the commission is not under bias from one interest group within the autism community. The commission seeks to find the points of consensus among the different interest groups and advocate for all people with autism.
The independent charity is the National Children’s Centre and the new group running this commission is the National Children’s Group. Please note this commission is concerned with autism across the ages and has no bias towards children.
We are seeking further financial support to give the commission a financially sustainable future and would welcome enquiries from supporters/sponsors.