The Bercow review, published today, has confirmed what many parents of children with autism have been telling us: provision for children with speech, language and communication needs is inadequate and must improve.
We strongly welcome Bercow's crucial emphasis on early identification and intervention and support his call for an assessment process and better speech and language services. It is also imperative that parents get the right support to understand both the needs of their child and what help is available to them.
Many parents have experienced huge inequalities in accessing the speech and language services their child desperately needs. A postcode lottery exists and parents are often pushed back and forth between health and education authorities, often receiving no proper help from either. Furthermore, many children with autism do not receive speech and language therapy even when it is a legal requirement in their statement of special educational need.
Mark Lever, NAS Chief Executive said "Autism is a serious, lifelong and disabling condition and it is totally unacceptable that children with autism continue to be excluded from playing a full part in society by not receiving the language therapy they need. We urge local and national government to implement Bercow's recommendations and take immediate action to improve provision for young people with autism."
NAS research has shown:
- almost 40% of children with autism in mainstream schools do not have access to speech and language therapy
- only 58% of children who have it written into their SEN statements actually receive it, even though it is required by law.