NAS colleague at the Understanding Autism session with MP

Yesterday, the National Autistic Society hosted its first ever Understanding Autism session for Members of Parliament (MPs). Over three sessions, 82 MPs received an introduction to autism and guidance on how to create autism-friendly surgeries and communities.

Here, our autistic Campaigns Officer, George Stanbury – who delivered some of the training - gives his reflections of the day...

 

Yesterday felt like a huge moment. At a time when Brexit and climate emergencies are hoovering up news headlines and politicians' time, to have 82 MPs sit down for an hour and learn about autism was amazing.

Our message was quite simple: autistic people have strengths, but also face some challenges. To create a world that works for autistic people, MPs, as our decision makers and the people we might turn to when things are going badly, need to understand that.

When I was delivering one of the sessions, it felt like everyone wanted to work towards this vision. Thangam Debbonaire MP told her colleagues that she wanted an autism-friendly country, as she gave great advice out about how to include autistic people in her work as a constituency MP.

The leader of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA), The Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan MP, noted that parliamentarians must be kinder, more sensitive and more aware of the challenges autistic people face. Lots of the MPs who were there agreed that with kindness, patience and sensitivity they could make a big change to the way they support their autistic constituents.

However, we know that our aim is not a reality yet! We’ll be working with MPs and their offices to create more autism-friendly advice surgeries. As this year is the tenth anniversary of the Autism Act, we’ll also be working with decision makers to ensure that autistic people can receive the support they need. For the first time, children and young people will be included in the Government’s autism strategy and so it is more important than ever that our MPs get this right!

It is wonderful that more and more MPs are actively learning about autism and what needs to change. What would be even more wonderful is ensuring that this learning turns to action.

Who attended the session?

We were delighted with the response we had from MPs who wanted to attend the session and learn more about autism. Not all MPs who expressed an interest were able to make it on this occasion due to other parliamentary commitments, but because of the success of these sessions we will be looking to put on more sessions in the future so all those who couldn’t make it this time can come along.

The MPs who came along to the sessions yesterday were as follows:

Dr Philippa Whitford MP

Nia Griffiths MP

Preet Kaur Gill MP

Sir Alan Campbell MP

John Woodcock MP

Marion Fellows MP

Michael Tomlinson MP

Rt Hon Mark Tami MP

Patricia Gibson MP

Kevin Brennan MP

Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP

Thangam Debbonaire MP

Mark Pawsey MP

Gavin Robinson MP

Rt Hon Tom Brake MP

Ben Lake MP

Dr Matthew Offord MP

Rt Hon Alistair Carmichael MP

Dr Andrew Murrison MP

Kate Green MP

Sir Bernard Jenkin MP

William Wragg MP

Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP

Ian C. Lucas MP

Huw Merriman MP

Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable MP

Douglas Ross MP

Darren Jones MP

Derek Thomas MP

Marie Rimmer MP

Stephen Lloyd MP

Justin Madders MP

Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP

Theresa Pearce MP

Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP

Philip Hollobone MP

Heather Wheeler MP

Steve Baker MP

Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan MP

Alex Chalk MP

Luke Graham MP

Gavin Newlands MP

Eleanor Smith MP

Bill Wiggin MP

Tan Desi MP

Rt Hon Sir Oliver Heald QC MP

Gillian Keegan MP

Christina Rees MP

Barbara Keeley MP

Mark Prisk MP

Rt Hon Sir Desmond Swayne MP

Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP

Andy Slaughter MP

Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP

Mikes Gapes MP

Helen Whately MP

Wendy Morton MP

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP

Michelle Donelan MP

Jo Churchill MP

Tonia Antoniazzi MP

John Grogan MP

Debbie Abrahams MP

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

Emma Lewell-Buck MP

Virendra Sharma MP

Victoria Prentis MP

Robert Courts MP

Bill Grant MP

Christine Jardine MP

Stephen Pound MP

Rt Hon Nigel Dodds MP

Steve McCabe MP

Seema Malhotra MP

Andrew Griffiths MP

Fiona Bruce MP

Rosie Duffield MP

Emma Reynolds MP

Sandy Martin MP

Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP

Rt Hon Jeremy Wright QC MP

Rt Hon Kevan Jones MP

 

You can find out more about our work with MPs to understand autism here.

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