Young, Disabled and Invisible

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2013 National Disabled Members' Conference
5 July 2013
Carried as Amended

Conference is concerned that young people starting work for the first time are finding it increasingly difficult to have a learning disability recognised as it is extremely difficult to get a diagnosis. This is almost impossible for young people who may be on the autistic spectrum.

Government policy does not provide a service where young people aged between 16 and 18 can be assessed for autism or Aspergers syndrome. Some young people start work and encounter problems that have been hidden in the school environment. Issues such as difficulty socialising, adapting to different situations, lack of empathy, literal understanding of instructions and conversations, poor organisational skills and difficulty accepting alternative points of view can be indicators that a person is on the autistic spectrum.

When that young person or their employer tries to get help they have nowhere to turn. If a young person is not already ‘in the system’ when they turn 16 they cannot be referred to Children’s Services for assessment but they can’t be referred to Adult Services until they are 18. The only way they can be assessed is if their GP applies for ‘special funding.’ Then they need to find an assessor who is qualified and prepared to carry out an assessment. This can take many months during which time the young person may lose their job as no reasonable adjustments are put in place.

Many of these young people have been let down by an education system that didn’t recognise the problems they were facing. Others have managed to disguise the problems while in a familiar environment but can’t cope in a new and demanding situation such as the workplace.

These young people are our members and our future members. They are part of a generation who are finding it more and more difficult to find and keep work. Letting them down in this way could lead to long term unemployment, lack of self esteem and the loss of potential talent.

Conference it is time to take a stand and give these young people the support they need. We call on National Disabled Members Committee to:

1)Provide branches and regions with guidance to support young people who experience problems that may relate to an undiagnosed learning disability; and

2)Lobby government to change policy so people aged 16 to 18 can easily access the social care assessment process.