Monique Blakemore from Manchester UK has Asperger’s Syndrome and is an autism advocate for others on the autistic spectrum and for families supporting autistic individuals. She has two young sons who are both on the autistic spectrum.
Monique is an active campaigner, advocate and coach. Earlier this year she facilitated Autism Bubble Day and which was endorsed by The World Autism Organisation.
Monique is also Mentor and Specialist Advocate for autistic parents in care proceedings that are trying to obtain correct educational provision for their children.
Monique was employed as Employment Development Consultant covering Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire for a charity that provided employment coaching to adults with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC).
Monique is a passionate campaigner in raising awareness about the diagnosis and issues surrounding women who have Asperger’s Syndrome. She told us that she recently met with Zandrea Stewart, Director of Adult Social Services, in October this year to discuss autistic women.
“I discussed issues surrounding autistic women in care proceedings. Mentioned was the delay in obtaining a diagnosis and how autistic women can be misunderstood in their parenting roles.”
Monique also contacted Michael Swathfield who is the Autism Policy Lead at the Mental Health and Disability Division for the Department of Health to request a meeting in order to discuss her concerns about the unmet needs regarding females with Asperger’s Syndrome. The document Asperger Women UK, Autism Strategy Review was developed as a request by Mr Swathfield who is currently reviewing the listening phase of the Review of the Adult Autism Strategy. He wanted information on current issues facing autistic women that could be included in his report.
This led to the online survey by Monique who was helped by a team of people, on a short deadline, who assisted with the survey questions and reading the survey results which was compiled using information shared by 100 women that completed the online survey on the 20th November 2013. This was recently submitted to the Department of Health.
Monique recently received an email from Zandrea Stewart, and was told that she will be discussing with Mr Swathfield “how women can be considered as part of the strategy refresh”. (Email dated 29th November 2013).
Here are some of the findings from Asperger Women UK, Autism Strategy Review.
“Females are referred for an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) assessment for diagnosis ten times less frequently that their male peers. This document, as requested by Michael Swaffield, is compiled using information shared by 100 women that completed an online survey on the 20th November 2013.”
There are 6 parts to the review:
- Part One Asperger Women & Diagnosis
- Part Two Asperger Women & Sexual Identity
- Part Three Relationship with Social Services
- Part Four Understanding of Need
- Part Five Identifying Areas of Need
- Part Six Pregnanc
Monique told Autism Daily Newscast that:
“Of great concern is that 7.35% of women do not engage with social services through fear/anxiety of how they will be judged as an autistic person”
Monique also told us that 15.31% of the women who completed the survey receive support from Social Services and that feel under-supported and that their parenting is judged
Monique told us:
“What is of great concern is that females are referred for an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) assessment for diagnosis ten times less frequently than their male peers.”
Autism Daily Newscast asked Monique what she would like to see changed or improved for female Asperger’s?
“Many autistic women can feel isolated and marginalised with few supportive mechanisms to assist in their roles as women and their roles as parents and carers. There is a tremendous wealth of talent and experience of autistic women in the UK. Our women have years of experience developing sophisticated coping mechanisms, ‘masking’, and this experience should be shared with the younger girls entering their adult lives.”
Autism Daily Newscast looks forward to reading and reporting on the findings of the Adult Autism Strategy when published.
Monique’s final words are:
“No woman should feel afraid to be diagnosed or disclose their autism in fear of how they may be interpreted by professionals. We need to move professionals into a strength based model of autistic women in conjunction with meaningful supports that are specific to our needs.”
You can read more about the survey here
Monique Blakemore’s Blog can be read here