South Lanarkshire Autism Provision To Be Increased

Plans to increase provision for primary school children with autism have been announced by South Lanarkshire Council. The decision followed a year-long campaign for specialist support in Rutherglen and Cambuslang.

Parents collected more than 1,600 signatures after discovering none of the schools in their area had a classroom for children with autism.

Cathkin Primary School in Rutherglen will get an extra class in August, with more facilities to follow in 2009.

An additional class for children with autistic spectrum disorders will be set up at Robert Owen Memorial Primary School in Lanark.

A new base for pupils with general additional support needs will also be established in Cairns Primary School in Cambuslang in 2011, and a post of Deputy head teacher will be created.

The news has been welcomed by campaigners.

‘Meet and support’

Jackie Brown’s four-year-old son was held back from school for a year because there was no local provision for children with autism.

She joined forces with two other parents to lobby for a dedicated classroom in Rutherglen and Cambuslang at Holyrood.

She said: “We’re really pleased.

“One of the most important things we’ve stressed in this campaign is that it’s not awful having an autistic child, it’s awful having 17 schools in your area and no autistic provision in those schools.

“Children will no longer be excluded from their communities, families with autistic children in the area will be able to meet and support one another.”

Ross Macfadyen, from the National Autistic Society, said South Lanarkshire Council should now start to look at its provision for older children with autism.

He said: “This is very good news. What we need South Lanarkshire council to do now is to realise these children will be going to secondary school at some point. They really need to take this forward.”

According to NHS Lanarkshire, the number of children diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder is growing and further expansion of services in South Lanarkshire is likely to be required.

About 7,500 children and teenagers in Scotland are thought to have some form of autistic spectrum disorder.