Disability, as defined by the UK Government, is stated as this:

You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. (GOV.UK)

Well, there’s a woolly old definition, open to interpretation! And it certainly is interpreted differently, depending on who is utilising it.

An example is the PIP (Personal Independence Payment) welfare benefit. Having been through the mill on this one (and still fighting it) I can categorically say that this scheme is reliant on the interpretation of the individual assessor and the biases and level of relevant education within the organisations that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) use to assess this entitlement. There’s no uniformity of decision and very little understanding of what it means to be autistic or many other disabilities.

For example, after my complaint to Capita’s handling of my PIP claim, the official response was that ‘they are not expected to know about every single condition, they are there to understand disabilities’ – immediately revealing to me that my autism, and my disabling co-occurring conditions, are not considered disabilities, despite copious amounts of evidence that demonstrate to the contrary. Their interpretation of the Disability Act is far too rigid and outdated to assess us fairly.

I am disabled primarily because my life is substantially negatively affected because of society’s lack of understanding and accommodation for my neurodivergence and co-occurring conditions. That’s it. It really is that simple.

I like rules. I like rules because they are consistent and I know where I stand. There is no consistency to UK Law or its implementation in the area of disability. Those, to my mind, aren’t rules. Hence, there are autistic people all over the UK, with similarly disabling aspects to our lives, some of whom are being recognised as disabled and many of whom are not, not because we are less disabled, but because there is no consistency in education and implementation of the Equality Act.

This is not by any means a specific frustration for autistic people, but for all disabled people.

Even the law regarding disabled rights in the workplace is vague. Disabled people are entitled to ‘reasonable adjustments’ under the same Equality Act. Who decides what is reasonable, I’m pretty sure it’s unlikely to be us!

Such is the scale of injustice in the area of disability law, there are numerous organisations you can contact if you feel your disability is not being treated with respect and recognition. This could be in relation to housing, employment, State benefits and any other aspect of what makes life difficult for disabled people.

 

Here is a link as a good starting point: The Disability Law Service – Fighting injustice for disabled people

I shall add more useful information (and less ranting) when I am calmer about these issues!  You may have to wait a while for that…