THIS week, Chesham and Amersham MP Dame Cheryl Gillan writes exclusively to Bucks Free Press readers. She says:

Over the last ten years since the introduction of the Autism Act 2009, improvements have been made to the support and care available to autistic people.

Awareness of autism has increased, and every council now has an adult autism diagnosis pathway.

However, according to our research, two thirds of autistic adults in England are living without the care and support they need to live fulfilling lives, and I and my MP colleagues continue to be contacted by autistic constituents or their family members who struggle to get the support and access the services they need.

Each Member of Parliament has approximately 1,000 people with autism in their constituency, and in May 2019 MPs were given a powerful insight into the challenges they can face during the first ever autism training sessions in Parliament.

The study, which was undertaken by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism, which I chair, has discovered that this lack of support is having devastating consequences for autistic people, leaving many feeling isolated, developing mental health conditions, and ending up in either mental health hospitals or the criminal justice system.

This widespread unmet need is indicative of poor understanding of the Act’s duties on councils and the NHS and of how to implement them - not enough is being done locally and nationally to make sure the Autism Act makes a difference to autistic people across the country.

The APPGAs focus over the next few months will be to ensure that the Government takes on board our recommendations and initiates the action needed to improve the lives of autistic people.

The Government is reviewing its autism strategy, so this is our opportunity to help shape their vision for the years ahead in order to create a society that works better for people with autism and their families.

What is your view on Cheryl’s letter? Email