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7 October 2004

Stevenson at Autism Event

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson was guest speaker at a recent event to raise awareness of autism. Autism is a lifelong development disability that affects the way an individual communicates and relates to people around them, for which there is no cure.

Speaking at the event, Mr Stevenson said:

“Autism sufferers face all sorts of difficulties in their day to day lives as it can severley cause problems with their social interaction, their inability to read situations and the difficulty of understanding others’ feelings or experiences. Due to the fact that the exact cause of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is still not fully known, getting the right kind of help and support is crucial for individuals with an ASD so that they can go on to fulfill their potential.

“It is clear as we learn that many sufferers are not diagnosed until well into their teens, the area of diagnosis is an area which should be given priority. Also, once diagnosed, more has to be done in the area of post-school suport for adult sufferers so that they can be provided with a vital source of support rather than simply left to their own devices once they have completed their education.

“Obviously, more research is needed in the area of Autism and service providers such as health, education and social work need to forge together to ensure that sufferers are given every opportunity in life that most of us merely take for granted. Although the Scottish Executive do have policies regarding this subject, it is clear that not much is being delivered.

“Individual sufferers need to be consulted more as it is them who know at first hand the problems and the key issues therefore they need to be involved in the process of service provision.

“From attending this event this evening, I am pleased to hear of pilot projects which have been launched to ensure early intervention and quick diagnosis of sufferers will previal so that their needs can be met and I wish the projects every success.

“Finally, the Government need to recognise their role as it is simply unacceptable to leave the meeting the challenge of Autism to voluntary organisations who do a power of work and show immense dedication.”

Stewart Stevenson
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