Bristol Mother Urges Government to Make Autism and Learning Disabilities Training in the NHS Mandatory

A Bristol mother is campaigning to make training for NHS staff working with people with autism and learning disabilities a mandatory part of training.

Paula McGowan’s son Oliver, died at Southmead hospital in Bristol on 11 November 2016. Paula says Oliver’s death happened because the hospital staff weren’t trained to understand how to put reasonable adjustments in place for him.

Autism is a developmental disability that affects how people experience the world around them. People with autism can experience increased anxiety from sensory processing difficulties as well as difficulties with social interaction and communication.

It is a spectrum condition, not a linear spectrum running from a little bit autistic to very autistic, but a condition with a criteria of symptoms which affects each individual to varying degrees – much like a sound mixing board.

Some people with autism have other co-morbid conditions such as ADHD, dyspraxia or mental health conditions. They may also have learning disabilities or difficulties.

Transitioning from one place to another, physical contact, unexpected changes or surprises or an extreme change in the sensory environment, as well as the ability to communicate with strangers are some of the difficulties children and adults with autism may face during even planned visits to hospital.

Putting in reasonable adjustments for people with autism is essential not only for meeting equality laws, but to give the individual equity and safety with their treatment.

Paula says the level of training many healthcare professionals have dealing with patients with learning disabilities or autism is unacceptable.

She is calling on the government to further prevent avoidable deaths by making relevant training mandatory.

For more information and to sign the petition, visit: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/221033

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