House of Commons, Debate on education provision for children with autism – An article posted on the Parentdish website on Friday July 18, voiced parents anger over the fact that only 11 politicians turned up to a parliamentary debate on provision of education for children with autism.
The debate opened by the Liberal Democrat MP for Burnley, Gordon Birtwistle, who said that he was pleased with the number of Members in the Chamber who wished to debate this important subject.
Anna Kennedy OBE, tweeted:
Bursting at the seams as we speak hmmmmm maybe not #mps4autism #autism
Anna exclusively told Parentdish that:
“You’ve got to give credit to the MPs that were there to speak up for families, but such low attendance is disheartening and seems to suggest that most MPs don’t care. That’s the feedback I’m getting from families with autism.”
Gordon Birtwistle raised the issue of the difficulties faced by parents when trying to get a diagnosis for their child, and how this impacts upon the child’s education. He said that children with a statement of special educational needs are eight times more likely to be excluded than their peers.
However, Anna had strong views on this and believed that the debate simply went over old ground, she told Parentdish:
“The fact so few MPs show up to these debates means that every time they just go over the same ground and that doesn’t led to anything changing.
“My sons, Patrick and Angelo were diagnosed in 1994 and 1997 and I’m not hearing anything different in 2014. It’s quite sad. Awareness is improving but it needs to be more than that.”
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education Edward Timpsonstated that this this was the third debate on the autism and education in the last 18 months.
Anna went on to say that there were only around three people at the last debate and two of them looked like they were asleep! She then added:
“If I could have a meeting with the new Education Minister, Nicky Morgan, I’d tell her that she really needs to listen at a grass roots level to people with autism and their families, to hear what they’re going through.
“At the moment it feels like families are not being listened to, and they’re being penalised because their child has a disability.”
The original article by Ellen Wallwork on the Parentdish website can be read here
Anna also told Autism Daily Newscast that:
“parents from the Community Group KWADE worked hard to organise the autism and education debate and were disheartened when only 11 MPs showed up. They asked for my support in highlighting this with #MPs4autism which I was happy to give and work together to highlight this issue.”