Hatfield Family advise Government over Autism Strategy

A FAMILY from Times Territory is urging people affected by autism to speak up – before a new strategy to improve mental health services is launched. The Griffin family – mother Ann, father Laurence and their son Peter – visited Whitehall this week to mee

A FAMILY from Times Territory is urging people affected by autism to speak up - before a new strategy to improve mental health services is launched.

The Griffin family - mother Ann, father Laurence and their son Peter - visited Whitehall this week to meet care services minister Phil Hope, to ask him how he planned to tackle the lack of services for adults with autism.

The meeting marked the beginning of a five-month consultation period between the Government and families with autistic relatives, which will ultimately form the basis for the new strategy.

Recent research undertaken by the National Autistic Society (NAS) revealed at least one in three adults with autism in the


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country was suffering serious

mentalhealth difficulties because of a lack of support from social services.

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At the meeting the Griffins, from Drovers Lane, Hatfield, asked Mr Hope what could be done to help people like Peter, who has Asperger syndrome, a type of high-functioning autism.

"I have a Masters degree in astrophysics," said Peter, 28.

"Although I would like to work and live independently in the future, I don't have these skills

at the moment and there's no-one to help me.

"People assume because I have a high IQ I don't need any support.

"I'm really worried about the future and asked the minister what the strategy will do to help people like me."

Peter's mother Ann, who along with husband Laurence runs Harc, the Hertfordshire branch of the NAS, said: "To speak to the Government directly was a privilege. Autism is now on

the agenda."

The consultation period ends on September 15, and Ann said as many families as possible should take part in the consultation.

"It's not every day of the week we get the opportunity to have our voices heard, but it's here now.

"I would urge people who are affected by autism to go to the NAS website and take part in the consultation."

n Visit www.nas.org.uk to find out how you can take part in the consultation.

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