Recently, we attended an Autism event which was mostly great, until a clinical psychologist joined the speaker panel.
This is no sweeping judgement on clinical psychologists, there are both good and bad clinical psychologists. But clinical psychologists have a duty to raise awareness of social vulnerabilities, in the same way that we do. This argument has also been made by former President of the British Psychological Society, Peter Kinderman.
Unfortunately, in our experience, clinical psychologists have been too quiet, often putting their own comfort ahead of the welfare of a patient; for example, in cases in which health care professionals can’t agree on a diagnosis, so the case becomes cited as being “too political”, leaving vulnerable patients to fend for themselves.
This clinical psychologist was no different. In response to an audience question, “why are workshops not commonplace?”, his answer was simple; he just shrugged and said, “there is no funding”. With no further commentary or discussion about support services.
This same argument is used by animal charities, to great effect, for support. But this was not a call for support. Those four words reduced the needs of people who each contribute to society, to monetary value in a model that does not consider disabled or marginalised people. All his statement did was further the perception that disabled people and neurodiverse people are helpless drains, towards which no-one wishes to contribute.
It isolates people and communities in the blink of an eye. The funding argument is not only lazy and tired, but disappointing.
If we can run workshops that are subsidised by our bakery, without any government support then a clinical psychologist, who makes substantially more than us (and was paid to participate as a panel speaker), is in no position to make this argument.
This argument, like the limited services narrative, serves no-one but the speaker. It reinforces longstanding hierarchies and diminishes hundreds of thousands of people within one single breath.
Funding cannot and should not be the starting point for the development of support services, the starting point is need.
If you would like to join one of our autism support workshops, body positivity workshops, mental health support, social skills workshops, or surviving trauma support please contact us here. Workshops are run in person and online, one-on-one sessions can also be arranged.