Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:41 pm on 29th March 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Consumer Affairs) 2:41 pm, 29th March 2018

The hon. Gentleman makes an excellent point. I shall try to refrain from using that word in the future, as I am sure we all will.

If we raise awareness and understanding of autism, the wider public will necessarily display more sensitivity, kindness and compassion towards those living with this condition, and it is this that will help to remove the shadow of loneliness and isolation that autism too often brings. We know that loneliness and isolation are very damaging to general health and wellbeing—their corrosive effects are as damaging as smoking cigarettes—so we could actually be saving lives.

It is not all bad news, however—progress has been made. I am proud that the Scottish Government in 2011 launched the Scottish strategy for autism, declaring that autism was a national priority. But the job is not done—not by a long way. We know that there is no room for complacency, and we can all play our part in developing our awareness and displaying understanding of the challenges and difficulties that those living with autism face every day. I hope that this debate and World Autism Awareness Week have played some small part in that, and that they demonstrate how seriously the House takes the issue.