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TOPIC: Atos: 'Autism no excuse for reasonable adjustment'

Atos: 'Autism no excuse for reasonable adjustment' 9 months 1 week ago #230351

I submitted my DLA to PIP form recently, including 16 attachments (on average 6 pages each) detailing my 19 diagnosed conditions, the tests/scans/hospital letters generated therein, and how the conditions affect me. One of my conditions is Autism Spectrum Disorder with co-morbid sensory processing disorder - ample evidence of which was submitted with my claim form (ASD assessment report, GP letter, medical records listing 'Asperger's syndrome / ASD, behavioural problem', etc).

For Q16 (face to face assessments) I detailed how ASD would make it incredibly difficult for me to meet with someone and purposefully communicate with them, as I am prone to selective mutism, extreme anxiety and 'overstimulation leading to Autistic meltdowns' when in unfamiliar, stressful or otherwise difficult environments.

Atos text me yesterday saying I had to call to arrange an assessment. I did so, and was asked whether I had any needs or requirements above an 'average' able bodied person. I explained that I had detailed all this in my PIP form, but yes I would benefit from:

1) A quiet area without crowds of other people, bustle, noise and so on, as this can cause me to have an Autistic meltdown and put me out of action for days at a time.
2) A quiet side room or somewhere less hectic to wait would be appreciated, but if this wasn't possible then at least the ability to have the room not very highly lit. For example at a previous assessment they had tons of flickering lights *and* the sun streaming through high windows right into my face. I asked them to close the blinds please, because of my condition, and they refused. My wife did it instead and they didn't say anything.
3) Access to a disabled toilet as my kidney disease leads to uncontrolled incontinence.

The lady on the phone put me on hold, came back and said she'd read my PIP form, and that Autism wasn't an excuse for needing adjustments or adaptations for my assessment. She said if I managed to go to hospital once a year I could manage to go to Atos as well. I explained that the hospital make adjustments for me (quiet waiting area, option to take breaks, no room lighting, closed blinds) and that I carry a warning card issued by the local PCT and Police (joint venture) regarding my ASD, which carries a list of things to help me, my NHS care number and my ASD vulnerable patient registration number. As such, the hospital very much does accommodate me, and I'm only asking for the bare minimum from Atos to ensure my visit is productive and as stress free for both of us as possible (a 6'5" bloke having a meltdown/lashing out isn't fun).

She told me they won't be making any adjustments, and I can manage just fine. I pointed out the Autism Act and Equality Act and said I felt her words were both discriminatory and unlawful. After being called a liar by her (literally) I asked what she meant. She said I had told her I only have to visit my consultant once a year. I said yes, that's true. She replied I'd just told her I wasn't available for Atos next week as I have appointments all week. Yes, I said - two appointments, which means I need a day to prepare myself (Autism), a day to attend and a day to recover (exertion makes my heart and spinal issues worse, leading to me taking my morphine, leading to bed rest).

She huffed and puffed and said she would refer the matter to seniors to decide if I needed a home assessment or if they wanted me to attend a centre. If the latter, they will not be making any accommodations.

Surely this is unlawful? Isn't Autism a protected characteristic in law? I argued my official Autism diagnosis meant I was entitled to at least state my care needs and have them try their best to make my visit easier. They said the fact I can go outside (with someone to accompany me) is proof I don't need anything...

I've spent the day really angry and upset. Being kept on the phone for 20 mins, called a liar and told my 'story isn't straight' despite them being informed I have ASD and communication difficulties didn't help. I'm now heading toward a full meltdown and haven't been able to speak to anyone all day since. This is awful. Any help/advice appreciated.

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Atos: 'Autism no excuse for reasonable adjustment' 9 months 1 week ago #230361


Your adjustments are not unreasonable but the problem is that the Assessment Providers are just not set up for them.

My best advice would be for you to contact your MP for support.

Contacting your MP


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Nothing on this board constitutes legal advice - always consult a professional about specific problems

Atos: 'Autism no excuse for reasonable adjustment' 9 months 1 week ago #230378

I'd tend to agree Gordon. The question begs (and I just asked my MP the same thing) why taxpayer money is funding an organisation whose sole alleged purpose is to deal with disabled people all day, who are then not able to accommodate those same disabled people. I have serious arthritis and a spinal injury in addition to my ASD, and previous requests for an orthopaedic/arm chair or similar have gone unheeded. It's sit on the hard office chair (no padding) or stand. If you do either, you clearly are capable of sitting or standing like anyone else. It's ridiculous. I'll let you know what my MP responds with.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gordon, ivyfox

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Atos: 'Autism no excuse for reasonable adjustment' 9 months 4 days ago #230771

Just a little update. I didn't get any reply from my MP, despite being a member of the party. I'll be taking that up separately. Atos sent me a letter today saying they'll be coming out for a home visit in 10 days, so that's something at least.

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