Autism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:10 pm on 29th March 2018.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield 1:10 pm, 29th March 2018

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Indeed, I would urge Members of Parliament to encourage autism-friendly environments in their constituencies. Having soft lighting and not too much noise can make a very big difference to accessibility.

This is World Autism Awareness Week. As I said, the Westminster Commission on Autism works very closely with the all-party group. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham is a member of the commission. Yesterday, we were proud to launch a report called, “A spectrum of harmful interventions for autism”. Many people in this country—very wicked people—play on people’s stress, worries and concerns and sell treatments for autism that really should be banned. They use social media. It is a disgrace in our society that people prey on very stressed families with children or other members with autism. We took evidence on this, and it was really upsetting to hear about the kinds of treatments and therapies that were on offer. It is a very interesting area, because it is unclear whether it is covered by the food regulator or the medical regulator, so no one is quite sure who to complain to. Our report has the answer. It is very important, and I hope that hon. Members in all parts of the House will promulgate it.

The most serious thing that we have to address is what happens when someone—usually both parents, but a mother nearly always knows earlier—notices very early on that something is not quite right. Then there is the frustration of not knowing who to talk to, where to go and where the support is. I am not going to be political at all, but one little thing is that children’s services are deeply under pressure in every local authority.