Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has spoken about her own family’s battles with autism in a House of Commons debate.
Mrs Trevelyan highlighted the importance of helping families, schools and local authorities to recognise children on the spectrum and to find innovative solutions to improve their lives and learning. She also called for better support for early diagnosis and praised Northumberland SEN co-ordinator, Alan Carrick.
Mrs Trevelyan called upon her own experience battling the system for her son, in her Commons speech which touched on some of the difficulties facing children with autism and their families.
She said: “Without good friends, good luck and financial support, I know that our son would have fallen out of school by the time he was six or seven.
“The pressures that normal life put on our autistic children should not be underestimated. No right-thinking person would ask a child with a broken leg to run up the stairs, but the invisibility of autism means that these children are asked to do things that, given their hypersensitivities or gaps in neurological connectivity, simply ask too much of them.”
Mrs Trevelyan went on to credit her family’s battles as part of the reason she sought to become an MP as it caused her to want to help others avoid similar problems.
“This is part of the reason I am here,” she said. “I decided that advocacy was needed for those who are unable to access the system, who do not know how to fight back or who are too honest and quiet folk trying to get on with their day, muddling through it with difficult jobs and complex family environments. For such people it is too hard to fight what still today seems to be an implacable system in so many parts of our country.”
The Commons debate comes on the back off World Autism Awareness Week – led in the UK by the National Autistic Society, who have led a huge fundraising effort to support families touched by autism.
The topic for debate was proposed by Cheryl Gillan MP, and other members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Autism, of which Anne-Marie Trevelyan is a member.