Code of practice needs to benefit children with autism

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We welcome the amendments to the Additional Support for Learning Act suggested in the recent Scottish Government consultation (TESS, July 25). The current legislation is not working effectively and many children with autism are not receiving the support they need.

We are particularly concerned that there are inconsistencies in the way the legislation is being interpreted and implemented across different education authorities.

Autism is affecting an estimated one in 100 children and it is crucial that all receive the right support. Where such a child is not sufficiently supported at school, it can have a serious impact. The Act is therefore an extremely important piece of legislation.

However, almost three years after it came into force, many young people with autism still struggle to access support. Calls to our Advocacy for Education service have highlighted a number of areas where the legislation is not operating as well as it should. For example, many parents remain unaware of their entitlements, and there are difficulties in engaging crucial health and social work agencies.

The proposed amendments to the Act are a positive step towards improved support for children with autism across Scotland. It is vital, however, that any revised legislation is accompanied by an amended code of practice to ensure effective implementation.

Carol Evans, National director, Scotland and Northern Ireland, The National Autistic Society Scotland.

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