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MP backs Bill to help people with autism

February 11, 2009 1:58 PM

A bid to introduce the country's first ever autism law looks set to move a step closer later this month with the backing of Cambridge MP David Howarth.

Mr Howarth is supporting the Autism Bill - which receives its second reading in the House of Commons on February 27 - and has the power to transform the lives of thousands of people with autism.

The Bill, which is also backed by Cambridge-based Umbrella Autism, places a duty on local authorities and the NHS to recognise and fulfill their responsibilities towards people with autism. It also seeks to address the "postcode lottery" of services which exists throughout the UK.

"Current policy and guidelines offer very little help to adults with autism," said Mr Howarth. "Consequently, they struggle to get the services they need even if they are available.

"This Bill has the potential to ensure that service providers take decisive action to improve the lives of people suffering from this serious, life-long and disabling condition. It is a very welcome move.

"These are vulnerable people who need our help and I will do everything in my power to push for this Bill to become law."

Cambridge has a higher number of people suffering from autism than the national average, believed to be due to the fact that the condition is virtually synonymous with roles in the IT industry.

Robin Wallach, Chair of Umbrella Autism, the Cambridgeshire Autism charity, said: "David Howarth's support for the Autism Bill is very welcome indeed. It comes as no surprise to Umbrella Autism as he has been a strong supporter of the local autism community's calls for autism services in Cambridgeshire.

"The needs of people affected by autism have long been neglected and this Bill seeks to end that."