Samantha Dixon MP
Samantha Dixon MP

Here in Chester, we are lucky to have brilliant groups such as the Blacon Autism Support Group, Aspire Group, SPACE, Live! And The West Cheshire Autism Hub, now located in their new home of Dial House, providing safe, welcoming and inclusive spaces in the community for people with autism. 

In the last year, I have been fortunate to visit these brilliant organisations and see first-hand how they continue to deliver much-needed support. 

With more people getting diagnoses, awareness of the condition is growing, and we all have our part to play in making adjustments for people with autism. There are many hidden disabilities, and we should all bear this in mind. 

There are over 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK. 

Without the right support or understanding autistic people can miss out on education, struggle to find work and become isolated and lonely.  

There is nothing more important than ensuring everyone, regardless of need, gets the very best education possible. 

Yet, school is particularly challenging for autistic children and sadly, many children are not receiving the specialist support they need.  

There are more than 180,000 autistic pupils in England, 73% of whom are in mainstream schools.  

74% of parents and carers say their child’s school place did not fully meet their needs, and more than one in four parents, waited over three years to receive support for their child. 

Teachers are passionate about supporting their pupils. They want to give them the best possible educational experience, but they need the right support and training to do that.  

Many schools and colleges work hard to ensure their staff are well equipped to work with children and young people who are autistic or have a learning disability. I pay tribute to the incredibly dedicated workforce that provides specialist support to children and young people with autism and learning disabilities and helps to make school a place where they feel safe. 

Unfortunately, in the absence of resources and support from Government, parents all too often face a postcode lottery. 

It is impossible to talk about the struggles faced by people with autism, without mentioning the wider context of the system of SEND support, which is beyond breaking point. 

Too many families of children with SEND face a battle for the support their children need. The consequence of this failing system is heartbreak for families. 

Organisations such as the ones above are vital not only for providing safe spaces of support but also in raising the awareness of autism. I’d like to thank them for their brilliant work and the vital service they provide.  

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