I am glad that my hon. Friend has given me the opportunity to mark national autism day on behalf of the Prime Minister. Three things are important in relation to autism. The first is early identification: the earlier autistic disorder can be identified in a child, the more help and support the family and the child can receive. Secondly, the health services, which help families and children with autism, and the education services are vital. That is why we have doubled investment in services for children with special needs. Thirdly and above all, I pay tribute to those in the voluntary sector, particularly the National Autistic Society. They are a lifeline for parents, and without them many families simply could not cope.
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