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Julian Huppert MP

Adults with autism must have a voice - Huppert

October 8, 2010 12:59 PM

HuppertCambridge MP Julian Huppert has criticised the way people with autism have been dealt with in the past and warned that a new government strategy designed to help them must allow them to be involved.

In a powerful speech to a London conference staged by the National Autistic Society and the Criminal Justice System, he said he was struck by how difficult it was to understand the material on the new Adult Autism Strategy.

"I am at a loss to see how people with autism can really own this strategy and contribute when the language in most government documents is so managerial and arcane," he said. "Much of the material on this subject is so impenetrable that I struggled to get to grips with it. How much more so for people with autism who may have all sorts of difficulties, but who also have the ideas and experience to change things?

"We must make sure that we involve people with autism in this process. We must make sure that they are involved in decision making, consultation and advocacy.

"The way people with autism have been missed out, or worse, ignored in the past is entirely unacceptable."

Julian's predecessor, David Howarth, played a key part in getting the Adult Autism Strategy published. It places a responsibility on local authorities and health services to work together to develop plans for people with autism.

Conference delegates were reminded of Cambridge's strong associations with the work being undertaken to help those with autism. The Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University, led by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen publishes ground breaking research on every aspect of the spectrum, Julian said.

And he reassured the conference of the coalition government's support for this work.

"Autism has generally been a cross-party issue in recent years, culminating in widespread support across the House of Commons for the Autism Act," said Julian.

"There is therefore little reason to think that the coalition government will move away from the previous government's published strategy on autism."

And he added that autism costs the UK economy £28 billion a year; but despite the government's drive to cut the national deficit, it is unlikely that this budget will be reduced.

"The way to make life better for people with autism - is by listening to those we are trying to help," he said.