Thursday, 14 February 2013

Local MP backs Autism Campaign

Stephen Metcalfe MP with Carol Homden,
Director of the National Autistic Society

Stephen Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon & East Thurrock, is  backing a new charity campaign calling for more support for people with autism from black and ethnic minority (BME) backgrounds.

Stephen is supporting the National Autistic Society (NAS), the UK’s leading charity for people with autism, in its efforts to highlight the obstacles that often prevent people from these communities accessing the support and services they need to live with the lifelong developmental disability.

The prevalence of autism is thought to be the same across all ethnicities, with around 1 in 100 people in the UK having the condition. This means that over 100,000 people living in the UK who have autism are from a black or ethnic minority community. But despite this figure, individuals and families from BME backgrounds who are affected by autism have told the NAS that they often have to battle to receive appropriate support from their communities and local authorities.

The campaign was formally launched in Parliament this Tuesday, with MPs and Peers from across the political spectrum meeting individuals and families from BME backgrounds affected by autism. The NAS now hopes to carry out the largest ever survey into the experiences of people with autism from BME backgrounds.

Stephen said: “Listening to professionals, family members and people with autism from black and ethnic minority communities was moving and inspiring. I am backing this campaign as it’s vital that people from these communities receive the support and understanding they need. Everyone affected by autism has the right to live the life that they choose." 

Tom Madders, Head of Campaigns at the NAS, said: “Anecdotally, we know that people with autism from ethnic minority backgrounds face huge challenges. We frequently hear from individuals and families who say that cultural and language barriers prevent them from accessing the support they desperately need.

“But there are no robust statistics to show the true state of affairs for people from BME communities. This needs to be urgently assessed, so that local authorities can properly map out how they can deliver the support and services people with autism need.”