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Volume 471: debated on Tuesday 29 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps he plans to take to improve the services offered by his Department for people with autism and Asperger's syndrome in the next 10 years. (181560)

The Department for Children, Schools and Families does not offer services for people with autism and Asperger's syndrome directly. However, the Department, through the national strategies, will continue to implement its long-term special educational needs (SEN) strategy removing barriers to achievement, aimed at bringing improvements in provision for all children with SEN, including those with autistic spectrum disorders. Part of the strategy is the inclusion development programme which in its next phase will focus on autism, developing practical materials to help teachers address autistic children's needs and providing cascaded training for school staff. The Department's Autism Working Group will be involved in this initiative and will continue to play a part in the Department's support for improvements in autism provision.

The Department will continue to work with partners to improve provision for disabled children and their families. Under aiming high for disabled children over the coming three years we will be working with local authorities and others to improve information for parents, the provision of short breaks and support for young people at transition to adulthood, all extremely important areas of provision for children with autism and their families. We will also work with the voluntary, independent and statutory organisations represented by the Autism Education Trust, which we are helping to establish with set-up funding, to bring further improvements to provision for autistic children and their families.