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Special Educational Needs: Autism

Question for Department for Education

UIN 444, tabled on 11 May 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support services are available for (a) children with autism and (b) the parents of those children.

Answered on

18 May 2021

The Children and Families Act 2014 provides a framework for ensuring that autistic children are identified early and that they receive the support they need. The upcoming Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Review will look at how the system has evolved since 2014, and how it can be made to work best for all children and young people and their families.

The department is also working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to develop a refreshed cross-government autism strategy. This recognises the progress that has been made, as well as the challenges and priorities for reducing inequalities, and enabling autistic people of all ages to have the same opportunities as everyone else to lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives. DHSC aims to publish the refreshed autism strategy, subject to COVID-19 pressures, this spring.

We also know how important expertise and training is for the workforce to give children with SEND, including autistic children, the best experiences in education. The department has funded the Autism Education Trust since 2011 to deliver autism awareness training in order to best support autistic students to education staff in early years, schools and further education settings.

The Children Act 1989 places a general duty on local authorities to provide services to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need, including the provision of social care services for disabled children, as some autistic children would be considered disabled. The Equality Act 2010 carried forward existing protections against discrimination and extended a duty on schools to supply auxiliary aids and services to disabled pupils as reasonable adjustments, where these children are not being supplied through education, health and care plans or other sources.

The Children and Families Act 2014 (Section 97) requires local authorities to assess and support the needs of parents and carers as well as those of children with SEND. Assessments are based on individual needs but should include parents’ wellbeing and ‘control over day-to-day life’. Further information is available here: