MP’s ‘ral­ly­ing cry’ to tackle autism


Sunday Sun - - News - By Jonathan Walker Po­lit­i­cal Editor jon.walker@trin­i­tymir­

A North MP with an autistic son says the UK is “fail­ing” peo­ple with the con­di­tion.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Con­ser­va­tive MP for Ber­wick-upon-Tweed said she was “ap­palled” to learn about high rates of sui­cide among peo­ple with autism.

Early re­search sug­gests they are nine times more likely to take their own lives.

She said: “De­spite the cross-party ef­forts of all those for whom this is a pas­sion­ate pol­icy area – for 18 years I have cared for my son, who is now a young adult with autism – there are some peo­ple who are hav­ing a mis­er­able time in the men­tal health sys­tem and are not yet ben­e­fit­ing from im­proved ac­cess to core ther­a­pies and ser­vices: men and women on the autistic spec­trum. We must do bet­ter.”

Mrs Trevelyan was speak­ing in a House of Com­mons de­bate about the links be­tween autism, poor men­tal health and sui­cide.

She high­lighted char­ity Au­tis­tica’s re­search which found that autistic peo­ple with­out a learn­ing dis­abil­ity are nine times more com­mit sui­cide than the rest of the pop­u­la­tion.

“As a par­ent, that is just aw­ful to hear; but as an MP, it is a ral­ly­ing cry,” she said.

Mrs Trevelyan said the men­tal health prob­lems ex­pe­ri­enced by peo­ple with autism are of­ten mis­di­ag­nosed and are not treated.

Autistic peo­ple can strug­gle to find sup­port that works for them and they were some­times of­fered treat­ment which works for nonautis­tic peo­ple even though it was un­suit­able for them, she added.

And she warned that go­ing to see a GP could be a chal­lenge for peo­ple with autism.

“It’s an en­vi­ron­ment with un­fa­mil­iar light­ing, sounds and rules that can­not be es­caped ... we need to con­sider the im­pact of such things on those with these height­ened sen­si­tiv­i­ties, espe­cially when they are in a strange place and al­ready in a state of anx­i­ety.”

Blay­don MP Liz Twist told the de­bate: “Many men­tal health prob- lems can look dif­fer­ent in autistic peo­ple. We need to recog­nise that and make sure that the is­sue is ad­dressed, and that peo­ple have the ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ments and are dealt with prop­erly.”

North Durham MP Ke­van Jones said the sit­u­a­tion was im­prov­ing but there was more to do.

“We are win­ning that bat­tle. Now we need to win the next bat­tle, and that is how we hard­wire men­tal well­be­ing into public pol­icy.

“That is not just health; it is ed­u­ca­tion, hous­ing, so­cial care, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties ... and em­ploy­ment.”

Health Min­is­ter Jackie DoylePrice said the Gov­ern­ment was look­ing at how to im­prove ser­vices.

She said: “Ev­ery­one was ab­so­lutely right to say that we need to un­der­stand more about men­tal health, autism and sui­cide, and to un­der­stand more about what con­sti­tutes ap­pro­pri­ate men­tal health treat­ment and treat­ment for peo­ple with autism.

“The ex­is­tence of the sui­cide statis­tics, un­pleas­ant as they are, demon­strates that we re­ally must do bet­ter in this re­gard.”

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