The care and support available to autistic children should be symbolic of the aspirations and compassion we have for all children in our society. Unfortunately, the current resources and care options available to autistic children, their parents, and their carers often falls far short of what is required to adequately meet their needs.
I was made aware of the seriousness of this issue when Councillor Ricky Henderson, Labour’s Care and Support Spokesperson in Edinburgh, passed on the experiences of one of his constituents to enable us to discuss his experience of having two children with autism. He told us about how, despite his best efforts, he was forced to leave his job and become a full-time carer; about the shortfall in care assistance within the community; about the stresses on the current mental health system; and the failure of the Scottish Government to pay attention.
His story moved us, and knowing that other parents in the community were experiencing the same difficulties, we decided to draw up a consultation form to pass round organisations who dealt with those impacted by autism – in the hope that the data collected could be used to inform our policy making through our Scottish Policy Forum.
Last month, Ricky and I met families at the Gorgie City Farm to discuss their experiences. The parents and grandparents we met appreciated being able to talk about the reality of their day-to-day experiences. The responses collected so far give a real insight into the deficits in our health, care, and education services and where we might improve.
If you have been impacted by these issues, or know of anyone who has, please feel free to complete the Autism parents and carers consultation questionnaire and send it back to me.