Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Act Now For Autism Response To The Queens Speech

In the Queens Speech today, the Government announced a Children And Families Bill. Act Now For Autism fears that once again children with autism, many of whom currently don't have a Statement, will continue to have their complex needs ignored following the announcement that the Government plans to replace statements for children with a Education, Health and Care Plan.

Children with autism are some of the most vulnerable in the UK, with often complex needs. Despite this, children with Aspergers Syndrome or High Functioning Autism are often left sitting unsupported in mainstream classrooms.

Act Now For Autism hopes the introduction of the Education, Health and Care Plan will at last encompass every child with a diagnosis of autism (or traits but waiting for a diagnosis) and address their complex needs. It is sadly all too usual that once a child has a main diagnosis of autism the professionals involved stop looking at any additional issues they may have.

Levels of health related co-morbidity are high in autism. Many children will have dyspraxia and dyslexia and the vast majority have sensory issues that are often left unaddressed. Many also live with hypermobility syndrome (affects everything from how much they can tolerate PE to whether or not they are in pain when holding a pencil) dietary problems, sleep problems, epilepsy, allergies, etc.

Having an Education, Health and Care Plan would (we hope) mean the additional needs of children with autism, who are in mainstream schools, would have their other health needs assessed and hopefully strategies then put in place to support them.

The Department of Education has said that the Children and Families Bill will be 'the biggest reform in 30 years' and state that the main elements for children with special educational needs and disabilities are:


-Replacing Special Educational Needs (SEN) statements and Learning Disability Assessments (for 16-25 year olds) with a single, simpler 0-25 assessment process and Education, Health and Care Plan from 2014
- Providing statutory protections comparable to those currently associated with a statement of SEN to up to 25 in further education - instead of being cut off a 16
- Requiring that local authorities and health services jointly plan and commission services that children, young people and their families need
- Giving parents or young people the right to a personal budget for their support'

Act Now For Autism welcomes that the planned legislation will create a legal requirement for joint commissioning between health and social care. We do however have grave concerns that without an Education, Health and Care Plan in place children with Aspergers Syndrome and High Functioning Autism will not be included in the data which will be recorded and drive the commissioning needs. If there is no data to include the specific needs of a group of children whose complex and specific needs have been ignored now for many years, they will continue to be failed.

Act Now For Autism calls on the Government to stop splitting the autistic spectrum up into segments and allow a system like in Scotland, where every child with additional support needs (diagnosed or not) is protected in education and afforded the right to support by the Additional Support For Learning Act (2009).  
We must ensure that every child with an autism spectrum condition will be given an Education, Health and Care Plan to ensure they can have all of their needs addressed and meet their full potential in education.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope they keep to their promises as it would make mine and Paul's life a whole lot easier x

Post a Comment