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GORDON HENDERSON MP

FOR SITTINGBOURNE & SHEPPEY

MP pledges support for national autism campaign

15th December 2011
MP pledges support for national autism campaign

Gordon Henderson MP is supporting the launch of Ambitious about Autism’s new campaign, Finished at School: Where next for young people with autism?

The campaign calls for:

• A clear legal right to educational support up to the age of 25 for young disabled people

• A funding system that gives young people and families more information, choice and support

• A cross-government focus on outcomes and destinations for disabled young people

• A further education workforce with the skills to support young people with autism to achieve their ambitions

Research by the charity has found that tens of thousands of young people with autism are being denied access to education beyond school. There are an estimated 66,000 young people with autism aged 16-25 in England and yet the latest data shows that only around 15,000 (23%) access further education.

Parents interviewed as part of the research talk of a facing a ‘black hole’
when their child approaches 16 due to the ‘virtually non-existent’ options available to them. They describe the situation as being the ‘latest in a long line of battles to get the right education for their child’.

£27.5 billion a year is spent on supporting people with autism – significant savings could be made if we invested more in further education and supported young people with autism to develop the skills they need to lead more independent lives.

While there are some examples of excellent education provision for young people with autism, these are few and far between. In many cases, the lack of provision forces parents to send their child to one of very few specialist colleges far from home, or into a residential care home with people three times their age.

Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, comments:

‘Imagine being written off at the age of 16 and told that you have no opportunity to continue your education. Young people with autism are being denied the right to develop new skills, work and live more independently. It is no wonder that only 15% of adults with autism are in full-time employment.’

Mr Henderson said:

‘I am delighted to support Ambitious about Autism’s ‘Finished at School’ campaign. With the right opportunities and support, young people with autism can continue to learn and contribute to their communities. I urge all further education providers in Kent to open their doors to young people with autism and support them to access their services. I encourage everyone to sign up to support the campaign at www.AmbitiousAboutAutism.org.uk.'

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