3rd February 2006 at 00:00
Constructive Campaigning for Autism Services The PACE Parents' Handbook By Armorer Wason Jessica Kingsley, pound;11.99

Here is a useful reminder that, although the law creates a legal entitlement for children with special educational needs to receive suitable provision, it often does not happen without parental struggle.

The author's aim is to encourage and guide parents who want to go beyond fighting for their individual child's needs to campaigning jointly to improve educational services for all children with autism.

There is useful information on how local government is structured and how services are funded, but the strongest chapter, left to the end, contains such a powerful indictment of the dreadful state of autism services that some of the book's preceding advice to parents' groups, for example, on the need to build bridges to those who provide services, rings a little hollow.

My main criticism is that the effectiveness of the law is understated, for example, in the dismissal of the improving effect for all children over the last 20 years of case law (the rulings made by the High Court following judicial review or appeals against tribunal decisions).

This said, I hope, Constructive Campaigning will spark a dialogue between all individuals and organisations with a concern for how best to campaign for children with special needs.

John Wright Chief executive, Independent Panel for Special Education Advice

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