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Spalding-based autistic author calls for cash to be used wisely

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Callum Brazzo returns for his weekly Autistic Lincs article...

This week, internet connection has returned which means a slightly quicker column made (executive functioning issues considered).

And I want to think once again about homelessness.

There is a new fund in which, as reported by this paper last week, ‘the Government has given more than £30,000 to South Holland to try to prevent homelessness for vulnerable residents’.

When we think about autistic people and how it can be difficult to find and keep jobs (though it should be mentioned that this is often through barriers imposed by the workplace and not by the autistic person themselves) as well as the struggle to maintain payments even when they do have the finances available (eg forgetting rent, difficulty organising direct debits, spending habits not being monitored etc) then it is perhaps easier to put them in the category of ‘vulnerable.’

This, as a poem I wrote which was once included in The Big Issue, does not mean the homeless are helpless but measures do need to be in place to ensure those experiencing homelessness have the best facilities to get them into a better situation.

What I mean is the need for services offered by the community, if necessary, and - most importantly - the council funding places for people to live.

Supported living situations are not wholly appropriate for all autistic people, as being checked on can be anxiety-inducing and therefore ‘challenging behaviours’ may present. These can get misunderstood and the cycle continues, this loop of misunderstanding meaning the checks persist unchecked.

It is so important to get accurate information out there about autistic peoples’ needs and wants and just generally how their brains can work because, otherwise, people end up in services they don’t need to be in - the mental health service coming to mind.

If ‘treatment’ within mental health service goes badly then it only serves to put
autistic people at further risk.

Having a sensory-appropriate space (whatever that means for that person so they can express themselves positively rather than the Coke bottle effect of emotions) or perhaps even having a breakaway space so the autistic people can de-stress that way can be efficient measures for support.

I understand that workers have to deal with the spaces they are given but if we start from a different foundation, a creative, sensory-appropriate, calm-yet-expressive space from day one, then there’s a risk of autistic people reaching meltdown, exclusion and potentially homelessness.

This money could begin that journey of getting things right.

The rewards, for autistic people, will be priceless.

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