Our sessions launched in 2019, in partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA), and are delivered by autistic colleagues. They’re a chance for MPs and their staff to hear directly from autistic people, to get a deeper understanding of autism and to discuss how they could better support their autistic constituents.
Last week’s session was delivered by Helen Ellis, our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Co-ordinator. Helen spoke with the Minister about how she can help to create a world that works for autistic people.
They talked about the difficulties that can come with being autistic, as well as emphasising the various strengths autistic people can have. Helen also talked to the Minister about how to make her office and future surgeries more autism friendly. Although the Minister has much experience of working with and supporting autistic people and their families, she was keen to learn more and was particularly interested in understanding how she could create a more autism-friendly environment in her offices.
Helen Whately MP, the Minister of State for Social Care, said: “I was delighted to take part in the Understanding Autism session last week and am grateful to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism and particularly Helen for her presentation.
“I know there is more we need to do to improve understanding about what it means to be autistic and how people behave towards autistic people.
“That is why the new all-age autism strategy will include plans to improve public understanding and acceptance of autism. We will be publishing the strategy shortly.”
Helen Ellis, our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Co-ordinator, said: “Our mission is to transform lives and change attitudes. I’m hopeful that the Minister, and other MPs and staff who have attended our sessions, take away a new understanding of what it can mean to be autistic – both the strengths autistic people can have and the varying challenges we face too. And I hope that we can work together, alongside the All Party Parliamentary Group for Autism to create a society that works for all autistic people across the UK.
“With the pandemic, the upcoming autism strategy and the long-promised reforms to social care, it’s never been more important for MPs and the Government to understand what life is like for autistic people.”
In addition to this meeting with the Minister, we are delighted that staff at the Department of Health and Social Care’s Neurodiversity, Disability & Learning Disability Team will also be attending an Understanding Autism session later this month. This is a fantastic opportunity to improve understanding of autism, especially as we look ahead to the publication this spring of the Government’s much anticipated all-age autism strategy for England.