Callous change to Asperger United distribution

By Dinah Murray

June 15, 2017

​I’m beginning to hear rumours about Asperger United (AU) which I really hope aren’t true. Can the National Autistic Society (NAS) really be giving up the paper version? Surely they wouldn’t do that to its devoted readers without at least some consultation? Not everybody has Internet, and even those that are online a lot may still strongly prefer paper.

What about options such as asking people who can afford it to contribute to the AU pot and genuinely ring fencing those contributions? Or asking for donations towards print costs for those who choose paper? Most new books these days give one a choice and do ad hoc print runs because that has become cheap and easy.

Perhaps the NAS don’t understand the callousness of this change? Are they aware of how little else they do that is valued by adult autistic people? Do they know how much further AU spreads than just its subscribers? Many I know actively circulate it, many leave it in their local libraries. It gets handed around families and friends and given to GPs and other professionals. 

As far as I know there is nothing NAS does that is as appreciated by autistic adults and their families too. I wonder how much they spent on the (admittedly good) Too Much Information campaign? and how that compares with whatever it costs annually to distribute AU?

Updates by Panda Mery

The NAS has all but confirmed this rumour by removing the section about how to ‘Subscribe or update your details’ on the web page for AU. Compare the bottom of the current version of the page to an older one captured in March.

The callousness of this change is made worse by the timing of this decision as AU’s editor had been in the process of cleaning the subscription list and promising: ‘But please don’t worry: if you want to continue to receive AU, just respond!’. According to the notice in the last issue, this effort is ongoing. It would have made sense to wait for the end of this exercise to find out its impact on cost reduction. Not doing so shows a lack of respect not just to the readership of AU but also to the Goth, its editor, and the relationship between both.