Pauline Latham OBE MP has called for better awareness and treatment of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in a strong speech in the House of Commons on Autism Awareness.
Addressing the slow progress being made by Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council in keeping up with changes to care for people with ASD, Mrs Latham said the system was failing the children who need a diagnosis and putting additional burdens on people with ADS and their families.
Mid-Derbyshire’s MP highlighted the slow response of Local Authorities in meeting the changes which were brought in under the Family and Care Act in 2014.
For example, the Act reduced the amount of time children with Special Education Needs had to wait for an Education, Health and Care Plan from 26 weeks to 20 weeks. The average For Derby City Council is 35 weeks.
Mrs Latham also highlighted the problem of Derby not meeting the National Institute of Health and Care (NICE) guidelines on distance between a referral and first appointment. NICE guidelines recommend a maximum of three months, in Derby this is actually estimated to be closer to 12 months.
She called for mandatory ASD behaviour and management strategies training for teachers and teaching assistants as part of their qualifications. In addition, better awareness for parents on legal rights and services available to them as a family dealing with autism.
Mrs Latham was joined in the Chamber by over 25 other Members of Parliament to raise awareness of autism and share stories of their constituents dealing with autism.
Mrs Latham said: “I am deeply concerned by the delays in transitioning from Special Education Needs Statements to Education, Health and Care Plans. It affects pupil’s educational development and increasingly means teachers and school administrators are being asked to support ASD pupils for which they do not have sufficient training.
“The financial and mental health implications for those waiting to find out exactly what is the problem and the extra burden on carers without a proper diagnosis or support plan creates an extremely difficult situation that people are having to live through”
“Both Derby City and Derbyshire County Councils are letting down people with ASD and their families.
Making staff and the public more aware of autism is key to improving how it is dealt with. I hope Autism Awareness Week is successful in getting people to understand more about autism and spur local authorities, like those in Derbyshire, to redouble their efforts to meet the need of people with ASD”.