I believe that autism must be a priority, and that we must work together across and between governments to make life easier for people with autism and their families.
In Scotland, healthcare, education, local government, and social care are all devolved to the Scottish Government, and so much of the responsibility for accommodating and caring for people with autism rests in Holyrood. At present, unfortunately, the Scottish Government’s policies leave much to be desired.
There are, for example, major discrepancies between Scottish council areas in the proportion of school pupils identified with additional support needs like autism. This indicates that, in Scotland, this issue can be something of a ‘postcode lottery’, where more children with autism in some parts of the nation are going without the support that they need.
In England, where the UK Government is responsible for issues like healthcare and education, the UK Government is making training on how best to support children with additional support needs like autism a core part of the teacher training programme. The UK Government also has an autism strategy, and in 2015 issued a new set of statutory guidance for the NHS and local authorities to support implementation of this ambitious strategy.
I am proud to support a UK Government that has put autism awareness and support at the heart of its agenda, and I hope that the Scottish Government will follow the UK Government’s lead and make autism a genuine priority.