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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:49 am on 8th October 2008.

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Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners) 10:49 am, 8th October 2008

I certainly do. There is some excellent expertise in the school system and in schools such as Robert Ogden, and I pay tribute to the work that they do. Across the public sector, we should all be learning from and tapping into that expertise. We should network that expertise into improvements generally and into how we treat and look after these individuals and support their parents.

I shall turn to what the hon. Member for Buckingham described as the elephant in the room—the teacher training and support issue. It is important that we increase understanding of autism and its effects beyond the family setting, so that parents do not feel isolated in dealing with it, or when trying to access the support that they need. Although teachers are not health professionals—indeed, because they are not—it is vital that they have the knowledge and understanding of autism to be able to recognise behavioural patterns, to support those children, and to point their families in the direction of any additional services that they might need.