Saturday, April 28, 2007
Autism in the UK - Will PM Tony Blair Take Action?
In Canada our Prime Minister Stephen Harper is oblivious to, if not outright hostile to, the needs and interests of autistic children and adults. In the UK though, there is an air of optimism that British Prime Minister Tony Blair intends to act to help the cause of 587,900 people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome in that nation. Autism is an international health crisis. It will be great to see the UK's autistic population received better health, education and residential care. Hopefully, if more national leaders take decisive action, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper might also be shamed into action.
UK Autism On Prime Minister Tony Blair's Legacy Agenda
Main Category: Autism News
Article Date: 27 Apr 2007 - 14:00 PDT
The needs of the 587,900 people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome went straight up the political agenda when Prime Minister Tony Blair met with autism campaigner Ivan Corea and Lee Scott MP for Ilford North in the Prime Minister's Office in the House of Commons on Wednesday 25th April.
Autism is on the legacy agenda of Tony Blair who leaves office in the summer. Ivan Corea of the Autism Awareness Campaign UK presented the Prime Minister with The Autism Report calling for an urgent review of autism services for parents, carers and people with autism - the report highlighted the crying needs of people with autism in education, health,specialist speech therapy and respite care across the United Kingdom.
The Autism Awareness Campaign UK was set up in 2000 by parents and carers Ivan and Charika Corea who have a 11 year old son, Charin who has autism spectrum disorder. Since then they have been campaigning for better public services for all people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome. The Autism Awareness Campaign UK has called on the Prime Minister to launch a 10 year program of action and a national strategy on autism.
The call for an urgent review of autism services was backed by three leading figures of the charity world in the United Kingdom: Dame Stephanie Shirley Chair of Autism Speaks and The Shirley Foundation, Colin Headley, Chief Executive of the Disabilities Trust and Julie Spencer-Cingoz Chief Executive of the British Institute of Brain Injured Children. Several community organisations and organisations from faith communities also supported the need for a review.
A copy of the National Autistic Society's Make School Make Sense Campaign was also presented to the Prime Minister by Lee Scott MP.
Lee Scott, the leading parliamentarian, is championing the cause of autism in the House of Commons.Scott launched a landmark debate on autism in Westminster Hall on 7th March this year. It is now regarded as one of the most important debates on autism in parliament - he also quizzed Tony Blair on autism in Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) on 21st March. Scott has given real impetus to the autism debate in Westminster.
Ivan Corea discussed the need for a 10 year program of action with the Prime Minister - The Autism Awareness Campaign UK are calling on the on the British Government to undertake a 10 year program of building specialist autism schools, building autism units in mainstream primary and secondary schools, tackle the failure of some secondary schools in bringing in educational strategies to deal with autistic children in a mainstream setting, access to further education and higher education, labour market opportunities for people with autism and to tackle the whole question of bullying and autistic children, the provision of recreational activities for autistic children. There is an urgent need for ring fenced funding for autism services in the UK.
Autism Campaigners are also calling on the Government to launch data a collection program across the UK to determine the exact number of people with autism. Campaigners are unsure if there is proper data collection across the UK to determine exact numbers of adults and children with autism and Asperger's Syndrome.
Downing Street featured autism on the Prime Minister's website, immediately after the high level meeting with Tony Blair in the House of Commons:
PM praised for speaking out on autism
25 April 2007
Ivan, Charika and Charin Corea A campaigner who represents the rights of people with autism met with Tony Blair in Parliament today.
Ivan Corea, Chair of the Autism Awareness Campaign UK, wanted to thank the Prime Minister for helping to bring the disorder into the public eye.
Autistic spectrum disorders are estimated to touch the lives of over 500,000 families throughout the UK.
After meeting with the PM and presenting him with a report requesting an urgent review of autism services for parents and carers, Mr Corea said:
"Tony Blair is the first sitting Prime Minister in living history ever to talk about autism in the House of Commons and outside parliament.
"I would like to commend the Prime Minister for having the courage of his convictions for speaking out on autism."
The Autism Awareness Campaign UK was set up in 2000 to lobby for better public services for parents, carers and all people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome.
Ivan and his wife Charika paid tribute to the inspiration behind their tireless campaign - their 11-year-old son Charin who has the disorder.
"Charin has been such a blessing, we marvel at the way that he has become an overcomer, rising above the barriers and the label."