David is my teenage son and autistic. When first diagnosed at the age of three, the doctor told me he would never develop mentally. However, over the years he has evolved within his own world. Here I hope to tell of some of the strange but sometimes wonderful things about him and hopefully give a little insight and understanding into living with autism.

November 7 2011 – David turned 19 years of age. Being at the top end of the autistic spectrum with severe learning difficulties, he gets Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with a mobility component which funded the car. Without that car, we would have to use public transport. With David having temper meltdowns at the slightest noise trigger, the thought of travelling on a crowded bus filled me with dread. Still, all the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) had to do was read the huge amount of evidence sent to renew his claim after him getting the benefit for the previous 10 years. I mean, they haven’t changed their qualifying criteria and unless I’m mistaken, nobody has found a cure for autism in that time.

I put the claim in, waited for his birthday and the response. What I wasn’t expecting was David to fall victim to our coalition government’s purge on blasting the disabled by demanding the DWP cut the amount they pay out, by 20%.

David’s mobility allowance was slashed; the car was taken back.

Now I understand, in these times, the need for cuts but you have to make sure you get the decision right. Two months I fought, every day asking for review while sending in further supporting information – all to no avail. After a huge cloud blighting Christmas and the surrounding time, the car went in January and we were stranded. I found out that the decision was made on the recommendation of a health professional (employed by the DWP), misreading a document sent by the school. The school said, “David’s learning age is at National Curriculum Level 2,” and they put it in capital letters. That level is what you expect of a seven-year-old – at best. David is 19. Despite that and the fact the school also supported the evidence of his violent outbursts, the health professional sided with the DWP by saying David wasn’t severely mentally impaired for his age and that his behaviour wasn’t an issue. Tell that to the three people he’s attacked and the damage to my house he’s caused since they made the decision.

I suppose doors can be replaced but it’s a pity that the health professionals at the DWP aren’t as rigorous in meeting their customers as they are misinterpreting secondhand information.

I appealed their wrong decision, as is David’s right. I sent in supporting evidence from people who have been affected by his outbursts, a strong letter from his school regarding his age-related learning, another letter from his doctor and finally, a statement from our Member of Parliament who took one look at David and saw what anybody else that meets him can see – He IS severely mentally impaired.

I was totally confident of the appeal but needn’t have worried. Today, I received a letter from the DWP regarding the appeal. They have changed the decision in David’s favour and therefore, his appeal is not necessary.

Yes, not only have they now accepted what everybody who supported the claim has said all along, they have backdated it in a full admission of their error.

The pity is, the damage is done. Three months we have had this – lost the car and now have to re-apply for another. It’s more than a car anyway, it’s what it stood for. People persecuting David for a disability he never asked for and one I certainly never did either as I continue to give up my life to be his carer.

The message is simple though. Never give up. If you have children and loved ones with autism, or any kind of disability and find yourself victims to cuts and government bureaucracy, fight it all the way.

We have won this one but do I feel like celebrating? Not really. Not when it concerns something he should never have been penalised for in the first place.

 Nick


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