MP attends local forum on SEN & Disability Green Paper

Geoffrey Cox, MP for Torridge & West Devon recently attended a forum for Autism and Related Behaviours at Broomhayes Special School in Bideford. The event was organised by the school in conjunction with the National Autistic Society, who were pleased to welcome the MP, who has a longstanding interest in improving the services available to local parents of children and adults on the autistic spectrum.

The purpose of the forum was to discuss the government's Green Paper on Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Disability, which intends to respond to the frustrations of children and young people, their families and the professionals who work with them.

The MP was given an opportunity to speak to the group, which included parents and families, about the subject of SEN, and the continued efforts he has made in campaigning for improvements within this area. Geoffrey Cox also took part in group discussions with parents and took the opportunity to learn of their personal experiences and how changes to policy could improve the education and support for those on the autistic spectrum.

Geoffrey Cox said "I was delighted to attend the forum and to learn of the work the National Autistic Society is doing locally and nationally with regard to the government's green paper. This is an area for which I have a special interest and one that I have campaigned on a great deal since my election".

He continued "There is a long way to go, the Green Paper is on the right track but we need the full details. In my opinion Devon needs a Specialist Diagnostic Centre, which reaches out to children and young adults in our rural communities, giving them a diagnosis as early as possible. The National Autistic Society has strong evidence to suggest that identifying autism late in a child's education often has a severe impact on not only their education, but worryingly their communication and social skills, and mental and physical health. Early intervention and support is therefore extremely important".

Photo: Geoffrey Cox MP, Simon Payne Head of Education at Broomhayes, and Tom Madders Head of Campaigns at the National Autistic Society