VIEW FROM THE HOUSE
MAKING autism a better-understood condition is something which is close to my heart.
In the past few weeks I have been involved in activities which reflect the widely-different ways in which work is being done to increase awareness of autism.
The first week of April was officially World Autism Awareness Week, but it also forms part of World Autism Awareness month and this shows that we all need to think about how people on the autistic spectrum should be treated, wherever they may be.
One of the visits was to Feltham Young Offenders Institution to mark the fact that this is the first prison to achieve ‘Autism Accreditation’. HMYOI Feltham led the way in working with the National Autistic Society on a pilot project. The accreditation demonstrates that the organisation is both aware of and responsive to the needs of people with autism. The pilot has resulted in another three prisons working towards accreditation, with others now joining them and registering.
Recognising the specific needs of people with autism is really important and luckily we can all do something to learn more about what to do to help. Recently at the House of Commons I was able to see ‘Too Much Information’, a film produced by the National Autistic Society, which is filmed from the point of view of a ten year old boy with autism. Walking through a shopping centre is an overwhelming sensory experience which he finds painful and difficult. Unfortunately what contributes to the situation is the judgmental attitude of some onlookers. The film concludes with the words: “I’m not naughty: I’m autistic.”
79% of autistic people and 70% of families feel socially isolated. As a result as many as 50% of people with autism end up not going out anywhere, because they are afraid of what people think and of the public reaction to them.
A three year campaign has begun with the aim of getting more people to learn more about autism. I have asked the Prime Minister, in Parliament, to support the campaign and I would also like to ask you to support it too. If you put ‘Too Much Information’ + autism+ YouTube into your search engine, you can see the film for yourself.