MP’s ‘rallying cry’ to tackle autism
MUM‘APPALLED’ BY SUICIDE STATS
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.”