Annamika Koomoshan and Gordon Kay visited the inaspectrum, Croydon's autism and Aspergers enabling group, who meet the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Croydon Carers Centre, 12 Katherine Street.
Hosted by Paul McDonald, the organiser of the group (second from left), we heard from of a number group members about the challenges of engaging with health and social care services in and around Croydon.
As an introduction, we heard a personal perspective of what it is like to have autism from one of the group members, particularly in commmunicating with people, before a wider discussion about how services could be better delivered for those with these conditions.
GP services were an area of great discussion: from how a GPs approach autism patients, and the response and behaviour of some reception staff. There was an insight into an issue of having your name displayed on a LED sign when you are called to surgery, as some members were concerned about the privacy issue and would prefer a number.
Likewise the lack of effective communication in a sudden change in services, particularly in the GP you may see, can cause great anxiousness, as Autistic patients are more sensitive to change than others.
Group members would also like to see better and simpler explanations of how diagnoses are derived and the process of referral from GP to clinical commissioning group to hospital provider including expected waiting times. This would do much to reduce the anxiety caused by uncertainty, which is an issue for many autistic people.
Some group members expressed interest in Healthwatch and may consider becoming volunteers in some way.