There are hundreds of things that we would like to change about policy and how the public and businesses behave for autistic people and families. But with limited funds to campaign, we have to prioritise to make sure we make the most impact for the money we have to spend.
We decide what to campaign about based on two key factors:
1. The likelihood that a change will help autistic people and families.
We do regular surveys to ask which changes would help autistic people and their families the most. This helps us be sure that a change would impact a large number of people's lives in a positive way.
2. The likelihood that we could persuade national or local Government, businesses or members of the public to make a change.
We want to make sure that our campaigns are successful. We don’t want to campaign for the sake of it, but to actually get the changes that will make a difference. So we look at what the chances are of persuading others to make the change that we think is necessary.
Sometimes there is new evidence that will help us to get people's attention. Sometimes there's a political debate that will give an issue attention. So we look at what is happening in the external world to see what our best chances are for success.
So what are we campaigning about now?
Based on the feedback we got from autistic people and families in our latest survey, we decided to focus on:
- reducing diagnosis waiting times – we've had a big success
- increasing autism training for teachers – another success
- campaigning to improve local autism services – find out about our Haringey campaign
- improving public understanding of autism – read about our Too Much Information campaign.
How do we fund our campaigns?
We fund our campaigns through donations from individuals and charitable trusts. If you want us to continue campaigning or even do more of it, please help by donating.
We receive local Government funding for the care and education services we provide, but as an independent charity we make decisions on what to campaign about completely separately from that.
Our campaigns are based on what autistic people and families tell us is important and our chances for success. No Government funding goes into campaigning to change policy.
What is our relationship with national Government?
Along with self-advocates and other autism charities, we sit on the Department of Health-led Autism Programme board and liaise with a wide range of Government departments to make sure they understand autistic people's experiences better.
This includes Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice and equivalent departments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Sometimes national departments fund our services, for example the Education Rights service. However, this is a tiny proportion of our income – less than 1%.
What is our relationship with MPs and Parliament?
We provide the secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism, chaired by Cheryl Gillan MP.
All party groups bring together MPs and peers who are interested in an issue and help them to stay up-to-date with the latest information, and to collaborate to get attention for key changes that need to take place.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism includes MPs of a wide range of parties. Many MPs have become involved because of the work of volunteers in our branches and other campaigners to bring their attention to what daily life is like for autistic people and what needs to change.
For many years, our charity has been rated as one of the most effective disability charities by MPs. Along with our dedicated staff, our branch volunteers and other campaigners have played a huge part in this.
What are our political views?
As a charity we do not support any one political party. We work with Government to explain how we think policies might impact autistic people and to advocate changes that we think we make the biggest difference to people's lives.
We never have and never will advocate a party political position.