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Autism

Volume 405: debated on Monday 19 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will introduce an autism compact with employers to make it easier for autistic people to gain access to employment. [112674]

We are committed to improving employment opportunities for all disabled people, both through the help available from Jobcentre Plus and by extending basic rights through the Disability Discrimination Act. To this end, we support the National Autistic Society's Autism Awareness Week as an important campaign in ensuring that people with autism and their families are aware of their rights and the support available to them.

We have no plans at present to introduce an 'autism compact' with employers. However, we recognise that the employment needs of people with disabilities vary and we have been working with the National Autistic Society to improve our understanding of how best to help people with autism find and keep jobs. In addition, Disability Employment Advisers within Jobcentre Plus provide support to disabled people facing complex barriers to work and help employers develop good recruitment policies. They can offer help to disabled people with finding work and can refer them, where appropriate, to occupational health assessments training and the full range of Jobcentre Plus disability programmes.