Backbench Business - Services for People with Autismbackbench Business

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:09 pm on 21st March 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage) 2:09 pm, 21st March 2019

May I, too, congratulate Dame Cheryl Gillan, who, sadly, cannot be here because of that family situation, on her speech? I also congratulate Huw Merriman. I think he would agree that he proved that, as the old song says, there’s nothin’ like a Dame, but he did an admirable job in delivering her speech and in answering interventions from colleagues from across the House.

I take an interest in this subject, as do many Members, through constituency casework, and I have particularly focused on adults with autism. Understandably, there is often a lot of debate about children with autism, but those children grow up to be adults, and often many of the difficulties can arise when that cliff edge comes and children with autism become adults. Sadly, this often ends up with adults with autism coming into contact with the criminal justice system, as happened in the case of one of my constituents, whom I will not name for obvious reasons. The trait of stimming is shared by many people with autism, but it is not generally understood by the general population. It is the repetitive behaviour of some with autism in order to calm a situation, but it can be misinterpreted sometimes as a criminal action. In the case of my constituent, that led to his being arrested on two different occasions by the British Transport police when he became nervous travelling on public transport. This ended up with his being inappropriately cautioned and that remaining on the record, despite the fact that that caution was later withdrawn, in recognition of the fact that he had not been given the appropriate support that adults with autism are supposed to get when they come into conjunction with the criminal justice system.