MP to host local 'autism summit' on Friday 29 June


Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert is to host a 'summit' meeting on Friday 29 June to discuss autism provision in Sussex.

Mr Herbert has called the meeting after hearing from local parents with autistic children about the difficulties they face.


Mr Herbert is working with Autism Sussex and the National Autistic Society to bring together representatives from West Sussex County Council, the NHS and Sussex NHS Partnership Trust who will speak and listen to parents' concerns.


Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people.  It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.


There are a number of frustrations that parents of autistic children face which include obtaining a diagnosis and then getting a statement of special needs.


Even when a diagnosis and a statement have been secured there is often difficulty in co-ordinating services from the local education authority and the health service and other sources of support.


The transition from child to adult is often problematic.  Parents of autistic children worry about further education and employment prospects and what will happen to their children when they are gone.


The summit, to be held in Arundel, will give local parents the opportunity to ask questions about the pathfinders scheme which will be implemented by West Sussex County Council.  The pathfinders will be funded to test the core proposals from the Government's new Green Paper, 'Support and Aspiration: A New Approach to Special Educational Needs and Disability'.  Proposals include a single assessment process, greater engagement of the voluntary sector, and the use of personal budgets.


Speaking ahead of the summit, Nick Herbert said:


"I know from local parents who have contacted me and come to my surgeries that they can face daunting obstacles.  Too often in the past, it has been hugely difficult for parents to access the services that their children need.


"The Government's new strategy is intended to improve this situation and I want to discuss how this will be translated into local action and what the practical issues are.


"By hosting this summit I want to give the opportunity to parents to meet those on the ground who will be implementing the changes so that they can express their views and learn more about what is being put into place. 


"I hope that both parents and the providers of the services will find this to be a useful experience and I look forward to a very interesting and stimulating exchange."






Notes for Editors


1.      The summit will take place on Friday 29 June from 10.00am to 1.00pm at Arundel Town Hall, Maltravers Street, Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 9AP.


2.      Representatives of the media are invited to the summit.


3.  Attendees at the summit will include:


Katie Glover, Principal Commissioning Manager, Learning Difficulties, West Sussex County Council


Sue Coldham, Locality Manager, County Services for Adults with Learning Difficulties, WSCC


Jon Philpot, Principal Manager (Special Needs & Disability), Children's Services, West Sussex County Council


Aaron Gain, Programme Director, Children's, Young People (Seconded from the NHS)


    Simone Button, Service Director of our Children and Young People's Services, The Sussex NHS Partnership Trust (mental health trust)


Richard Brown - local parent and Chairman of Autism Sussex


Victoria Thompson - local parent and Ambassador for National Autistic Society