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Pupils: Autism

Volume 464: debated on Monday 15 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what representations he has received on cases where schoolchildren have been categorised as having fabricated and induced illness but where it has transpired that the symptoms giving rise to this concern were the result of the child being on the autistic spectrum. (152219)

The Secretary of State has recently received a letter from Autism Consultancy Services which, among much else, mentions the issue of the parents of autistic children “being scrutinised unnecessarily for conditions such as Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy”.

In 2002 the Government published their guidance ‘Safeguarding children in whom illness is fabricated or induced: Supplementary guidance to Working Together to Safeguard Children’. In view of the controversy concerning the term Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy the guidance refers only to cases of ‘fabricated or induced illness’, specifically where such behaviour constitutes an abusive act against a child. The National Autistic Society made representations to officials and Ministers at the Department of Health on the text of the draft guidance and said that the Society was content with the final text. It included advice on the importance of clarifying the contributing factors and identifying any underlying conditions which may play a part in the developmental delay of children who have been identified as having illness fabricated or induced.