[Mr. Martin Caton in the Chair] — Children and Young People with Autism

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:06 am on 8th October 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stephen Ladyman Stephen Ladyman Labour, South Thanet 10:06 am, 8th October 2008

I entirely agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman, and that intervention feeds very nicely into my next point. When the Government made it a requirement that a parent could insist on a mainstream school place for a disabled child, they did not take away the right to insist on a special school place. One of the problems that we have is that there is the wrong balance in many areas between the number of special places available and the number of parents who want their child to go to those special schools.

My second suggestion is that we should undertake a professional and comprehensive needs survey. Let us work out exactly how many people there are with autism who might benefit from mainstream schooling, so that councils can get their provision right, because far too many councils are basing provision on cost rather than on need. May I make another suggestion? As I have already said and as we all know, the earlier that we intervene, recognise that someone has autism and get them the right support that they need, the better they will do. We have a huge opportunity coming up, because the Prime Minister has announced that we will provide a nursery school place for all two-year-olds whose parents want such a place. Why do we not say that everybody who is responsible for looking after a two or three-year-old in nursery education must have autism training, so that they can recognise the signs of a child who has autism and can ensure that that child is referred elsewhere in the education system to get the right sort of help?