June 16, 2010 6:15 PM
Mark has campaigned on a number of autism-related issues over his five years as our MP

Mark has campaigned on a number of autism-related issues over his five years as our MP

Thousands of children with autism in England are needlessly facing a future of mental health problems, local MP Mark Hunter has warned, because the NHS does not know how to help them.

Mr Hunter is backing a new campaign by the National Autistic Society (NAS) -'You Need to Know' - which aims to tackle an unfit mental health system that fails two thirds of children with autism and often makes their mental health worse.

Over 70%* of children with autism have a mental health problem, such as depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other anxiety disorders, despite the fact that many of these problems are preventable.

Autism is a complex disability and so when mental health problems do develop in children with the condition they are much harder to recognise, diagnose and treat without appropriate knowledge. Tragically, they are often dismissed as an unfortunate, but unavoidable side effect of having autism.

Commenting, Mark said:

"We all need to know that by giving children with autism the understanding and support they need, we help promote their health and happiness.

Too many are currently developing preventable mental health problems and find themselves up against a broken system that doesn't understand them or their needs. It is a tragic waste of their potential."

Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS said:

"All too often children with autism receive inappropriate, ineffectual and sometimes harmful treatment of their mental health problems.

"This has a devastating effect on families many of whom develop their own mental health problems as a result. Parents and professionals alike are crying out for more autism support and so we are delighted to have the backing of Mark Hunter MP.

"The NHS needs to know how to help, and the Government needs to know it can't wait."

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