Autism Awareness Campaign - United Kingdom

Tony Blair on Autism
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Tony Blair answers the Big Autism Question
In the Big Conversation

Ivan Corea of the Autism Awareness Campaign paid tribute to the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, the first  Prime Minister to speak about autism in public ever since Dr.Leo Kanner came up with the word 'autism' in 1943.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder.People with autism have difficulty in communication, social relationships and have difficulty with empathy and imagination. Autistic children may play alone, some lack the ability for creative play, they may display indifference, laugh or cry inappropriately, make no eye contact, some like spinning objects, others may talk incessantly on one subject, for example - trains and make a one sided interaction - say what they want to say.

Dr.Leo Kanner was the first to make a serious study of this mysterious condition which he called 'early infantile autism' way back in 1943.

Tony Blair is the first British leader to acknowledge the needs of the 520,000 autistic community in the United Kingdom in the House of Commons and outside the Palace of Westminster in London.

Ivan Corea said: 'The Prime Minister has shown his commitment to the autistic community in the UK by publicly talking  about their needs and about autism in general and we commend the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health for issuing guidelines to all professionals and institutions. We also welcome the fact that autism will feature in the National Framework for Children. We urge local educational authorities, NHS Trusts and Social Services across the UK to provide public services for every single autistic child and adult in the United Kingdom.'

The Prime Minister noted that 'Autism is one of the least understood but most frightening and difficult of conditions. I welcome initiatives which aim to improve our knowledge and understanding in this difficult area. People with autism lead isolated lives. Their social and communication difficulties place great stress on their lives. It is important that we should all be sensitive to their needs.'

Members of all parties have backed the Autism Awareness Campaign in the UK. The Prime Minister personally backed 2002 as Autism Awareness Year when he was quizzed by Linda Perham MP (Ilford North) during Prime Minister's Question Time on 9th January 2002. (Please see the Downing Street Wesbite under Prime Minister's Question Time for 9th January 2002)Earlier on that day Linda Perham MP had launched her historic debate on autism backing Autism Awareness Year. Mrs. Perham was supported by members of parliament of all parties. Never before had so many MPs attended an adjournment debate on autism.

In the House of Lords Baroness Pola Uddin spoke with passion supporting the Autism Awareness Campaign and calling for more services in Autism Awareness Year on the 25th of March 2002.

Autism Awareness Year was an outstanding success. What started as a small acorn of an idea in the front room of parents Ivan and Charika Corea of Buckhurst Hill in Essex is now the largest ever movement for autism in the UK. It's success is due to the commitment, enthusiasm and drive of charities such as the British Institute for Brain Injured Children, the Disabilities Trust, National Autistic Society, Autism London and over 800 organisations. This was also the first time that organisations worked in partnership with each other in the cause of autism. There has never been partnership working on such a large scale where autism was concerned.

Partnership working is absolutely crucial if we are to help every autistic child and adult in the UK. Health, Education, Social Services and the Voluntary Sector need to work in partnership with Schools, Colleges and Employers if they are reach out to autistic children, young people and adults.

The numbers of autistic people in the UK are rising all the time. Parents and carers want to know what causes autism. Is it the MMR vaccination, is it genetic, does pollution trigger it? We need long term independent research on the causes of autism. Meanwhile we need public services for our children and for adults including those with Asperger's Syndrome. We need to end the postcode lottery to health, education, specialist speech therapy and respite care. Many people are suffering as a result of the lack of services even in 2003, the European Year of the Disabled.


*For further information please see the Prime Minister's comments on autism on

*Please see Prime Minister's Question Time on 9th January 2002 on the House of Commons website and the Downing Street website.

*Linda Perham's major debate on autism(9th January 2002) is on the House of Commons website.

*Baroness Pola Uddin's debate on autism (25th March 2002) is on the House of Lords Website.

*Ivan and Charika Corea's website is on

*An Autism Web Ring has also been set up by the Corea Family - to register please see the above website.

*Please see the DFES and DOH websites for information on the guidelines relating to autism and in the information on the NSF for Children.


Parents and carers who have problems with education or those who need information on Autism, Asperger's Syndrome or need general advice, could telephone the following helplines:


0800 0184016


Education Advice Line-
0800 358 8667

Tribunal Support Scheme-
0800 358 8668


020 7359 6070


01278 684060

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