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Abbott backs autism campaign

SUPPORTER: Abbott is backing the new autism campaign

LABOUR POLITICIAN Diane Abbott has thrown her weight behind a new charity campaign that seeks further support for black and ethnic minority (BME) people with autism.

The campaign, launched on February 12 in Parliament, aims to conduct the most extensive survey of BME people’s autism experiences.

Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said: “This campaign highlights an incredibly important issue. Many of my constituents from ethnic minority communities struggle to receive the Special Educational Needs support they need for their children, and these difficult experiences are replicated across the UK.

“It’s vital that we do more to understand autism and its impact on black and ethnic minority communities – we hope this campaign is a first step towards a greater understanding and better support,” she added.

The shadow minister for public health has been working with the National Autistic Society (NAS), a charity which highlights barriers autistic people face in accessing support and services.

NAS estimates over 100,000 BME people live with the condition in the UK – one in 100 people across the country have the developmental disability which has a spectrum of severity.

Ethnicity is not believed to be factor determining its prevalence.

Felicia Higgins, a mother of two autistic boys who attended the launch, told The Voice she was eager to know how the NAS would collate the data.

“I’m anxious to know how they will go about collecting this information and tap into as many people and families as possible,” said Higgins, who has been through four educational tribunals concerning her sons’ schooling.

“Awareness is always an issue in autism – it’s not great. In the black community, and in general, autism can be seen as a stigmatism, so some people choose to ignore it.

“There’s an awful lot of work that needs to be done in terms of what people need to know about autism, how it can affect people, and that it affects people differently,” she added.

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