CHILDREN IN NEED OF ANTIPSYCHOTICS?

Autism Rights has launched a `call for action`, to ask the Scottish Government and Parliament to review the inclusion of people with Learning Disabilities and Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) within the provisions of the Mental Health Act. This `call for action` is timed to coincide with the current consultation on the Scottish Government's Mental Health Strategy, which ends on the 31st January 2012:-
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/09/01163037/0
- Mental Health Strategy for Scotland: 2011-15 A Consultation

Ten years ago, the Millan Committee, which was given the task by the then Scottish Executive of reviewing the then Mental Health Act, recommended a future review of the new Act, that would take people with Learning Disabilities and ASD out of the provisions of the Act.

Another review in 2009 made the same recommendation.

We believe that the inclusion of people with Learning Disabilities and Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) under the blanket term of `mental disorder` is a historical anomaly, so it is apt that our `call for action` is taking place within Disability History Month:-
http://disabilityhistorymonthscotland.org/

See the documentation that we have so far produced, including our 'Call for Action' leaflet. We will be making our own submission to the consultation on the Mental Health Strategy, and encourage you to do likewise, giving your backing to our `call for action`. We would be grateful if you could either copy us into your submission, or just let us know that you have given your backing to our `call for action` within your submission. If you don't feel able to make a submission to the consultation, please email your support to us at callforaction at autismrights.org.uk - replace the at with the usual @ in the address (we're simply trying to avoid multiple spam).

Channel 4 News very recently ran a piece entitled `Number of children on antipsychotic drugs doubles`. We recommend that you visit the webpage and
view the associated video:-
http://www.channel4.com/news/numbers-of-children-on-antipsychotic-drugs-...
- Channel 4 News Wednesday 09 November 2011
The most telling part of this story, from our point of view, was that of the little boy with autism who was given antipsychotics for his `challenging behavour`, the most distressing aspects of which were only eliminated after a doctor treated him for acid reflux - he had been on antipsychotics for 3 years without any improvement whatsoever. We know other autistic children with everything from gastrointestinal problems, to abnormalities with their endocrine systems, to brain tumours, who have not received the medical care that they require. Their parents have been told that their children's autism is sufficient explanation for the behaviour and other symptoms that they display.

What neither Channel 4 News nor the rest of the media have acknowledged, is that the use of psychoactive (psychiatric) drugs in the `treatment` of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is in line with official clinical guidance. That same clinical guidance will not recommend nutritional or other innocuous therapies that are known to help children with ASD. The situation with adults with ASD is, in most respects, far worse.

Autism Rights is supporting families who are currently battling to disentangle their adult sons from the mental health system, where they should never have been placed. We know that one of the main reasons that adults with ASD end up ensnared within the mental health system is because there are no appropriate services for them in Scotland, even today. Too often `challenging behaviour` is seen as mental illness, when it is acute mental distress, brought about by years of incompetent service provision.

Anyone, professional or carer, who is interested in or concerned about the way that psychoactive (psychiatric) drugs are used in our society will have a once in a blue moon opportunity to hear one of the best writers in the medical science field speak in Scotland. The award-winning US journalist Robert Whitaker, the author of `Mad in America` and `Anatomy of an Epidemic`, will be speaking in Cupar, Fife on the 19th and Edinburgh on the 21st November. Whitaker has conducted extensive research into the efficacy and effects of these drugs. Further details about his Scottish speaking dates are available from his website, as is information about his work:-
http://www.madinamerica.com/madinamerica.com/Whitaker.html

We do not believe that equality of healthcare or of other services for people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders will be achieved until the Mental Health Act ceases to discriminate against people with mental disabilities.

This is the letter sent by email to various Learning Disability, Autism and Disability Charities that operate in Scotland asking for their support for
our `call for action`. So far, the Scottish Disability and Equality Forum has given its support to this call:-
(Thank you, SDEF! - http://www.sdef.org.uk/ )

This letter contains the weblink to NewsNet Scotland's coverage of our News Release, to which I was able to add further comments and weblinked references - thanks to them for a decent job and attitude.

LETTER TO DISABILITY ORGANISATIONS

Dear Sir / Madam,
I am writing to you to ask for your support in calling for an end to the inclusion of people with Learning Disabilities and Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) within the provisions of the Mental Health Act.

You may know that there is currently a consultation on the Scottish Government's Mental Health Strategy. Although this does not include a review of the Mental Health Act itself, this is something that the consultation may consider as part of the four year strategy.

Autism Rights believes it is time to call for an end to the inclusion of people with Learning Disabilities and Autistic Spectrum Disorders within the provisions of the Act, and is supported in this by one of the recommendations of the Millan Committee (which was formed to make recommendations for the 2003 Mental Health Act), the McManus Review of 2009 (which re-iterated that recommendation, albeit this did not form part of the main recommendations of this review group) and the Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee, who also supported this measure. Added to this, a number of organisations submitted evidence to the consultation on the McManus Review, making the same call for action.

There is no mention of this issue within the current consultation papers on the Mental Health Strategy, and we feel very strongly that there should be. The way to persuade the Scottish Government to move this forward is for organisations who represent people with Learning Disabilities and Autistic Spectrum Disorders to join with Autism Rights in calling for amendments to the Mental Health Act, or to a Review of the Act with a mind to see the Act amended within an acceptable timescale. Given that the Millan Committee reported to the Scottish Executive in 2001, there needs to be a much greater impetus given to the need for amendment of the Act.

Autism Rights is supporting families who are currently battling to disentangle their adult sons from the mental health system, where they should never have been placed. We know that one of the main reasons that adults with ASD end up ensnared within the mental health system is because there are no appropriate services for them in Scotland, even today. Too often mental health problems are seen as concomitant with autism, when the `challenging behaviour` is acute mental distress, brought about by years of incompetent service provision.

The current consultation on a Mental Health Strategy offers a golden opportunity, which will not arise again in the near future, to ask the Scottish Government to put in place the necessary amendments to the Mental Health Act.

I hope your organisation will support our call for the Scottish Government to review the inclusion of people with Learning Disabilities and ASD within the Mental Health Act.

For further information, you may wish to read this article in Newsnet Scotland, which is based on Autism Rights' most recent press release:-
http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/3389-autistic-...

If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Yours sincerely,

Fiona Sinclair
Convener
Autism Rights
www.autismrights.org.uk