Swindon South MP Robert Buckland calls for more supprt for autistic children and adults

Swindon South MP Robert Buckland

Swindon South MP Robert Buckland

First published in News

SWINDON South MP Robert Buckland has spoken movingly about realising his daughter had autism, as he called for better help for sufferers and their families.

Conservative Robert Buckland said more support was needed so autistic children and adults could play a role in society.

He revealed the shock of discovering his ten-year-old daughter had the condition, telling the Commons: "It took quite a while for us as parents to acknowledge that things perhaps weren't quite as expected with our child.

"You go through denial, you go through guilt, you go through anger, you go through shame; but you come through a rather difficult process with a firm realisation that everything that you can do for your child, you will.

"I, like many parents, have been through that mill - have come out the other side of it - but I am left with a feeling that the system does not work, that we are still very much obsessed with process and not outcome, and that we seemingly encourage the creation of categories to fit children into rather than the other way round."

Mr Buckland, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on autism, said there were an estimated 88,0000 schoolchildren suffering from autism in England.

Opening last night's backbench-led Commons debate, he hoped greater awareness would lead to improved treatment and quicker diagnoses doctors.

"I want to be able to stand here, or anywhere frankly, in a few years' time and say that in this country we finally cracked the code and ensured genuine opportunity for all people with autism and autism spectrum conditions," said Mr Buckland, a part-time crown court judge.

"We need to move to a system where you don't need to shout at the top of your voice to get provision for your child, you don't need to bang on the nearest door as loudly as possible, you don't have to kick out at the authorities to get what you believe is in the best interests of your child."

Tory former Cabinet minister Cheryl Gillan, who took the Autism Act through Parliament as a backbencher, said the Government must make sure that young people with the condition did not fall into a 'black hole' when the support they make the transition from childhood to adult support.

Mrs Gillan warned that there must be a 'net' of support for people with autism beyond the age of 25.

Ministers must 'make sure that the Department of Health and others ensure that young people with autism, when they reach adulthood, there is a plan for a net by other services so that black hole just doesn't simply move to the age of 25 as many people fear'.

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