Autism Awareness Campaign - United Kingdom

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A selection of articles on the Campaign.....

Living with autism

Charin with mum Charika
Charin with mum Charika

A DAD'S fight to secure a good standard of education for his autistic son has taken a step forward thanks to a new Government initiative.

Ivan Corea, who started the country's first Autism Awareness Year in 2002, has given a cautious welcome to a Government strategy to improve the education of children with special educational needs (SEN).

Entitled Removing Barriers to Achievement it was announced by Secretary of State for Education and Skills Charles Clarke.

Mr Corea and his wife Charika first started fighting for autism awareness when they became frustrated trying to gain support for their autistic son, Charin, who attends a mainstream school in Buckhurst Hill and spends a day a week at Hatton Special School in Woodford Green.

The campaigning couple believe the new strategy, which boasts an "inclusive vision", will go some way to improving conditions.

Mr Corea said: "The new SEN strategy, we feel, is a step in the right direction. We want to commend Mr Clarke for his 'inclusive vision' but for some autistic children - education in special schools is essential, for others inclusion in a mainstream setting is the way. We still need both avenues available to SEN children."

Mr Corea, whose work has been recognised with a number of awards by Prime Minister Tony Blair, said Hatton Special School gave Charin, eight, access to specialist care like sensory therapy.

He said: "Mainstream schools cannot offer this kind of therapy which is so important to autistic children."

The new strategy could change things by ensuring mainstream schools are equipped to deal with children such as Charin.

Mr Clarke said: "All schools should play their part in educating all children, whatever their background or ability." The campaigning father said that Buckhurst Hill County Primary School had already taken part in a successful outreach programme in conjunction with the Hatton Special School.

He said: "The school knew nothing about caring for autistic children three years ago and they are now experts. We want to commend the dedication, commitment and determination of headteachers, teachers and classroom assistants who are making inclusion such success."

Mr Corea is very keen to promote this work so the Government understands its importance, adding: "There are currently 520,000 people in the UK with autism and numbers are going to rise; the system currently in place is not prepared. Charles Clarke should come down and see the good practice at work in these schools."

He urged Mr Clarke to provide ring-fenced funding for educational services for children and young people with autism and Asperger's syndrome and specialist speech therapy to all schools.