Wednesday 16th January was a ‘Day for Autism’ in Parliament, highlighting the serious issues and concerns faced by parents, carers and people with autism in the UK. Created by the Autism Awareness Campaign UK, the day saw a number of notable successes with MPs and Peers raising the profile of autism and Children’s Secretary Ed Balls addressing parliamentarians, charities and parents at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism.
Leading peer and member of the board of research charity, Autism Speaks, Baroness Pola Uddin called on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to set up an Autism Taskforce to look at the issues and implement a national strategy and 10-year action plan. Peers called for the taskforce to be representative, cast its net wide and work with parents groups, community groups, the voluntary sector, charities and other government departments.
In addition, Lee Scott MP who has long championed the cause of autism, presented his Autism Bill which was passed unopposed onto its second reading in May. The bill proposes improvements including ring-fenced funding in mainstream schools, earlier diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders, improved teacher training and improved carer training and job opportunities.