'Parents know best about autism'

James Graham

Parents should tell schools how to teach children with Asperger syndrome (AS), according to Jacqui Jackson, a campaigning mother of seven whose four sons have all been diagnosed with different forms of autism.

Speaking at an Autism Cymru conference in Wrexham, Mrs Jackson said that parents know best. Describing her son Luke's school, she said: "I gave them solutions rather than going in and saying, 'what are you going to do about it?'"

Autism Cymru estimates there are around 18,000 children and adults on the autistic spectrum in Wales, which affects the way a person communicates and relates to others. People with AS are often highly intelligent and Luke, 16, who was on stage with his mother. has written two books on the subject.

Mrs Jackson also called for better awareness, saying those who wanted to help often lacked understanding, while others made no effort.

"One teacher said, 'I know Luke is autistic, but when he comes to my class he can leave his autism at the door'."

Conference delegate Denise Hawkins, who manages an 11-pupil AS unit at Argoed high school in Mold, Flintshire, said: "You have to work together.

Parents often say, 'this is happening at home, what can we do?'"

Autism Cymru has been working with the Assembly government on an all-Wales strategy. A consultation document is expected in June.

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James Graham

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