Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and Shadow Minister for Public Health, helped us launch a campaign in Parliament earlier this week.
In this new campaign, we are highlighting the obstacles that often prevent people with autism from black and ethnic minority (BME) backgrounds access the support and services they need.
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 the House of Commons with MPs and Peers from across the political spectrum meeting individuals and families from BME backgrounds affected by autism. Dee Johnson, who is responsible for Community Cohesion at our Radlett Lodge School in Hertfordshire, told the audience about the day to day reality of supporting BME pupils and Marcia Fenton spoke movingly about her life as a mother to 17-year-old Khadim who has autism and attends Radlett Lodge.
We now hope to carry out the largest ever survey into the experiences of people with autism from BME backgrounds.
Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said
This campaign highlights an incredibly important issue. Many of my constituents from ethnic minority communities struggle to receive the Special Educational Needs support they need for their children, and these difficult experiences are replicated across the UK. It’s vital that we do more to understand autism and its impact on black and ethnic minority communities – we hope this campaign is a first step towards a greater understanding and better support.
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.”
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