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Plaid Cymru blast Labour and pledge to introduce Autism Act if it forms next government

02 Apr 2021 3 minutes Read
Leanne Wood. Picture by Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru has pledged to introduce an Autism Act if it forms the next Welsh Government.

Leanne Wood, the party’s MS for the Rhondda, made the pledge on World Autism Awareness Day, and hit out at Labour for voting against an Autism Bill in the Senedd back in 2019.

She said there was “widespread anger and disappointment” at the time and vowed that a Plaid Cymru government would make up for this “missed opportunity.”

Wood added that her party’s Autism Act would “adopt a rights-based approach for people with autism” to support families and the thousands of individuals who are either struggling to get a diagnosis or support afterwards.

Dr John Gillibrand, an author and long-term campaigner on the issue and has welcomed the news.

His son was diagnosed with autism in childhood and he says that people “can’t take for granted that support will be equal across Wales” without embedding statutory responsibility.

Leanne Wood MS said: “There was widespread anger and disappointment when the vast majority of Labour Members voted against an Autism Bill in the Senedd in 2019.

“A Plaid Cymru Government would make up for this missed opportunity by bringing forward an Autism Act that would adopt a rights-based approach for people with autism and those suspected of having autism but are yet to receive a diagnosis.”

‘Distressing evidence’ 

She added: “When the Autism Bill was voted down by Labour, I clearly recall the distressing evidence we received from individuals with autism and their families. They spoke movingly of the challenges they faced in getting support after diagnosis and in many cases the struggle of getting a diagnosis in the first place.

“Their stories showed that there is a desperate need for such legislation. Those stories are still being told – the difference is that a Plaid Cymru government would be willing to listen.

“There are around 34,000 autistic people in Wales who need and deserve far greater consistency nationwide in terms of the provision of support and services available to them.

“A Plaid Cymru government would bring forward the Autism Act to help these thousands of people and to deliver where Labour have failed.”

Dr Gillibrand said: “I welcome the news that a Plaid Cymru government would bring back the Autism Act, as I was bitterly disappointed when this was voted down in the Senedd in 2019.

“I understand the difference that the right support at the right time can make to people diagnosed with autism and their families. It’s vital that this is embedded into legislation, rather than leaving such important matters to local discretion.

“People can’t take for granted that support will be equal across Wales unless this is made a statutory requirement.”

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