HC Deb 08 February 1971 vol 811 c40W
Mr. Meacher

asked the Secretary of State for the Social Services what action he proposes to take to ensure that 700 autistic children at present accommodated in mental hospitals are enabled to transfer to more appropriate residential care; and what plans he has to survey the whole problem of the care of autistic children, with particular reference to action required in implementing new services for the support of families who keep an autistic child within their own household.

Mr. Alison

Although autism is generally regarded as mainly an educational problem, some autistic children benefit from psychiatric treatment and for some care in a hospital for the mentally handicapped may be appropriate. Implementation on 1st April of the provisions of the Education (Handicapped Children) Act will help hospital and local education authorities to work more closely together in arrangements for the care and education of these children. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science is proposing to seek information from local education authorities about the numbers in each area. This information will be of assistance to social service departments in arranging appropriate support for families of children who live at home.