Autism Awareness Campaign - United Kingdom

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Ivan and Charika Corea of the Autism Awareness Campaign in the United Kingdom have called on Her Majesty's Government to provide more public services for the 520,000 autistic community in 2004.

Ivan and Charika Corea initiated 2002 as Autism Awareness Year, it came about as a result of their anguish to access services for their son, Charin - it is the largest ever movement for autism - 800 organisations came on board as partners of the year - it was an outstanding success in terms of raising the profile of Britain's autistic community and about the condition.

However there is a great deal of unfinished business. Parents, carers and autistic people desperately need public services. 

Ivan and Charika Corea are calling for an end to the postcode lottery to access basic education, health, specialist speech therapy and respite care for parents, carers and autistic people in the United Kingdom.

'The time for action on autism - is now,' said Ivan Corea.

 Our son Charin was born in the East End of London in the UK in 1996. When this bundle of joy was placed in my arms I could only offer a prayer of thanks to God for this wonderful gift of life.

 Charin seemed to develop normally.He smiled at three weeks, babbled at 9 months, walked at one year. He loved looking at books, enjoyed listening to music and he started doing complex puzzles at a very early age.

Suddenly it all went horribly wrong. At twenty months he stopped babbling.

It was extraordinary. A few months before it was as if he was on the verge of talking - here we were with a baby who went into his shell and slammed the door on the outside world. I must add that the MMR vaccination was given when he was eleven months.

We took Charin to the paediatrician who diagnosed pervasive developmental disorder which refers to a whole group of disorders characterised by delays in the development of multiple basic functions including socialisation and communication.

Symptoms of PDD include severe communication problems such as understanding language; difficulty to relating to people, objects and events, unusual play with toys and other objects; difficulty with changes in routine or familiar surroundings and repetitive body movements or patterns.

Autism, the experts suggest, is a brain disorder characterised by impaired social interaction and communication skills and limited activities and interests is the most characteristic and best studied PDD. Other types of PDD are Asperger's syndrome, Rett's Syndrome,childhood disintegrative disorders and others.

Autism is a neuro- developmental  disorder - all of us have neurones in our brains to process thought,they need to fire in the correct order - in the brains of an autistic child or adult they don't fire at all or they just misfire. That is why you cannot give an autistic child complex commands - everything has to be kept well and truly simple.

We are calling for more independent research on the causes of autism. Parents, carers and autists still don't know what really causes autism - is it the MMR, is it genetic - a hundred and one questions come up when you think about autism.We see our son Charin as a wonderful gift from God. He is indeed a very special person who brings us joy - we give thanks to God for his life.

We welcome the work carried out by Her Majesty's Government. The DOH and the DFES have issued guidelines to educational and health professionals to mark 2002 Autism Awareness Year. Autism will feature in the National Service Framework for Children.
The Secretary of State for Education and Skills Charles Clarke announced that the Government was launching a new SEN strategy in the UK:




Removing Barriers to Achievement, the Governments new long-term strategy to transform the education of children with SEN, proposes:

- to focus on early intervention - to identify childrens needs as soon as possible and provide the right support to help them learn

- to personalise learning for all children and make education more responsive to the diverse needs of individual children.

- to remove the barriers to learning that can get in the way of children with SEN making the most of school by developing the skills of teachers to meet the diverse range of needs and sharpen the focus on childrens progress

- more children with Special Educational Needs to be educated in mainstream schools, supported by special schools which will become centres of excellence

- a clear and continuing role for special schools - educating children with the most severe and complex needs, working closely with mainstream schools to share expertise and extend the range of learning opportunities for all children in both settings

- closer partnerships between education, health and social services and the voluntary sector to ensure that children with SEN and disabilities get the services they need to make the most of their education.

We warmly welcome this new SEN strategy, it is a step in the right direction and we appreciate Charles Clarke's 'inclusive vision.' However there are LEAs and NHS Trusts who are braking the law by not providing basic public services to autistic children and adults. There are inconsistencies in terms of funding - some schools have the staff and the funds to providing educational services whilst other schools struggle. The Government must hold LEAs and NHS Trusts accountable.

We are calling for more public services in 2004 to help all autistic children and adults in the UK.

Ivan Corea presents an Autism Awareness Ribbon to HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.

Prime Minister Tony Blair supports the Autism Awareness Campaign UK

Leader of the Opposition David Cameron

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Menzies Campbell

Strong supporters Dr.Vijaya Corea (former D-G, SLBC) and Lord Dholakia, President of the Liberal

Nirj Deva MEP