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November 2016
Star of the Month
Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan MP, autism advocate
Individuals with autism need advocates in high places. One of the most active of such champions is Cheryl Gillan, Conservative MP for Chesham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire.
    Gillan was the driving force behind the 2009 Autism Act, which committed the Government to producing an adult autism strategy and statutory guidance for local authorities.
    She has now given her support to a campaign to cut the high rate of school exclusions among children with autism. The initiative, run by the charity Ambitious about Autism, follows research revealing that up to 28,000 autistic children are thought to have been excluded in a single year.
    Gillan, who is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism, said: “We need to do everything we can to increase awareness of the needs of pupils on the autism spectrum.
    “Every teacher in a mainstream school will teach a pupil who is on that spectrum. Plans need to be in place so that the support network is there for all pupils.”
    A survey of parents for Ambitious about Autism’s report, entitled Ruled Out, revealed that between July 2012 and August 2013 four in 10 children with autism in England were illegally excluded from school. If applied to all of England’s 70,785 children with autism, this would equate to around 28,000 illegal exclusions.
    Ambitious about Autism’s Ruled Out campaign is here.
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Nurtured by nature
Teaching outdoors is said by many who’ve tried it to be especially beneficial for children with autism. Fiona McNeill looks at schools that try to make the most of outdoor opportunities, as well as equipment to enhance the open-air experience
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