Allow people with Autism to join the Armed Forces.
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my name is Liam Tomlinson and I would like to share my story with you.
Ever since being about being 15 years old I have had a strong ambition to join the Army. My ultimate goal was to become a regular army officer and have a fulfilling career serving my country and facing many different challenges around the world. So, I decided to apply to become an Army reservist. At the beginning of this process the application proceeded smoothly and I went onto do an interview which I passed with flying colours and then went on a course at a reserves centre near Manchester which was going very well. However, a few months into this I received a letter stating my medical clearance had been refused on the grounds that I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome from when I was 10 years old. I thought this was complete nonsense, perhaps a mistake because I currently hold employment, am capable of communicating effectively and do not have any physical health issues. So, I decided to appeal the decision and sent of medical evidence from a doctor who believed I was fit for Army service. However, around 5 weeks after submitting the medical appeal the Army have still said I am not fit for Army Service on the same grounds. I couldn't believe the Army had a policy that in my opinion discriminates against people on the Autism spectrum so I immediately sent a letter to my local MP who has not replied. ** See update**
I believe the current policy is unfair and discriminates against people with Autism because:
1. Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) is a very complex condition with a very diverse range of people all with different abilities and skills as well as strengths and weaknesses. From this information it is clear that it is unfair to put a blanket ban on all people with any history of Autism because it is impossible to know how someone is going to perform without giving them a chance or even a medical assessment.
2. From seeing the way the Army processes medical applications I know that it is fairly easy to mislead and manipulate the medical process. If I would have lied on my application or sent them a letter from a doctor that says I do not have Asperger's syndrome I know I would have been medically cleared and would have progressed.
3. The UK rightly paints it self as an open country that encourages equality and diversity within the workplace. Yet, many people on the Autism Spectrum have not seen this with 90% of adults with Autism unemployed and many people with Autism not given any chance to succeed and integrate the government should be leading by example on this issue and employing people with Autism within the Armed forces.
4. Finally, people with Autism have so many skills and so much to offer in the workplace from IT skills to Language skills to creativity, people with Autism can offer insight into tasks like no other and have the potential to do just as well or even better than any other members of the Armed forces.
I started this petition to help the Autism community and fix this injustice, with 10,000 signatures I will submit this petition to the government and with 100,000 signatures to Parliament. Finally, if you agree with this I would love you to sign it. Thank you.
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