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Stephen Metcalfe MP for South Basildon & East Thurrock has pledged his support to creating a society that works for autistic people and their families.
He made the commitment at an All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA) event in Parliament last week, marking the 10th anniversary of the Autism Act and highlighting the work that still needs to be done.
Under the landmark Autism Act, alongside other important laws like the Care Act, autistic people in England are entitled to the care and support they need.
But a recent inquiry by the APPGA, supported by the National Autistic Society, found that autistic people and their families in England still aren’t getting enough support. Progress has been held up because there isn’t enough understanding of the Act’s duties on councils and the NHS and of how to implement them.
There are around 700,000 autistic children and adults in the UK and a further three million family members and carers. This means that around 1 in 100 people in each MP’s constituency is autistic.
Autism affects how people communicate and interact with the world. It is a spectrum. This means autistic people have their own strengths and face varying challenges. Some need 24-hour care and support. Others simply need clearer communication and a little longer to do things at work or school.
Without the right support or understanding, autistic people can miss out on an education, struggle to find work and become extremely isolated.
Stephen said: “I was delighted to attend this important event, marking the 10th anniversary of the landmark Autism Act.
“I am committed to representing everyone in the area and this of course includes autistic people and their families. Too many autistic people continue to face inequalities. I want to change this and am proud to pledge my support to creating a society that works for autistic people.”
Caroline Stevens, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “Thanks to everyone who attended this important event, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Autism Act.
“This law has made a big difference. For instance, there is now a route to diagnosis for adults in almost every part of the country and the Act is still the only law dedicated to improving support and services for a specific disability.
“But it’s not enough. Its impact has been limited by underfunding and poor understanding of the legal duties on public services. The APPGA’s recent inquiry showed clearly that there is simply not enough support or understanding for autistic people in our society.
“We, and the many MPs who signed our pledges, are committed to changing this and to creating a society that works for autistic people and their families.”
For more information about autism, please visit autism.org.uk