MY heart always goes out to the parents of autistic children who come to see me in my surgeries because they face a life long battle to get the help they need to enable an autistic child to reach his or her full potential.
Very often in a small borough like ours it’s difficult to provide the kind of specialist help that a larger local authority like Birmingham can provide, but last week I discovered that we do have a gem right here in our midst.
There is a specialist unit in Marston Green for Learning Disabled Adults who have autism, run by a charity - autism.west midlands. 14 adults are cared for at Gorse Farm by a committed team of professionals. Many different services have been brought together under one roof: psychology, speech therapy, community nursing and dentistry which means that several of the adults have progressed with support to more independent living.
I was deeply impressed by the obvious kindness and consideration for those who struggle to communicate. Innovative ways are found to make all those cared for feel loved and appreciated, so small wonder that ageing parents of these autistic adults say that they are comforted to know that their children will be well looked after when they pass on.
There is currently a Bill going through Parliament, introduced by my colleague, Cheryl Gillan, which would require local authorities and their partners to take a strategic approach to meeting the current and future needs of children and adults with autism in their local area. In February the Bill was considered in the House of Commons and I am pleased that it won a large majority. The Bill will now return to the house soon; I will be following its progress closely. I am proud to say that right here in Solihull, though, we already have an example of best practice care for those with autism. Gorse Farm is a reason to be proud of the different agencies working together in Solihull. We may be a small borough but it’s good to know we have so much to offer.