Towards an Autism Strategy for Europe

On November 6, 2012, the ‘Towards an Autism Strategy for Europe’ seminar will be held at the European Parliament to present successful national strategies for autism and discuss the possibility of a Europe-wide strategy for autism.

As any family affected by autism will tell you, searching for and coordinating services for a person with autism – such as adapted education and training, and psychological, medical and dental services can be a full-time job.

There are currently around 3.3 million people in the European Union who have autism, yet in most European countries there are not enough basic services to meet their needs, and coordination of services at national level is often poor.

Wales and some other European nations have developed successful national strategies to identify and meet these needs. By coordinating national policy across a range of fields – education, health, justice, employment, social care, research and others – they ensure a better quality of life for people with autism.

The seminar on November 6, presented by Autism-Europe, in conjunction with Autism Cymru and the Celtic Nations Autism Partnership, aims to facilitate the development of strategies for autism around Europe.

The first session of the seminar, titled ‘Benchmarks of success’, will highlight the achievements of autism strategies that are currently in place in Wales, Northern Ireland and other Celtic nations, comparing policy approaches and criteria for success.

The second session of the seminar will look at the European context and consider the possibility of a Europe-wide strategy for autism.

The seminar will be followed shortly after by a reception in the evening which will provide an opportunity for further discussion and networking among people with an interest in policy for autism.

Hugh Morgan, CEO of Autism Cymru, explains: “The seminar aims to promote our achievements and to support third sector organisations in other EU nations, as well as EU institutions, to develop successful strategies for autism.”

Autism-Europe’s President, Zsuzsanna Szilvásy, urges: “We encourage countries that do not have an autism strategy in place, to learn from successful autism strategies in Wales and other countries, and develop a strategy at their national level.”

As more and more people are diagnosed with autism (currently around 1 in 150 people in Europe), the need for coordinated policy approaches at national and European level is becoming more and more necessary.

“Providing appropriate support to people with autism and other disabilities is a human right – the member states of the European Union have confirmed that when they signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

“We urge national governments and the European Union to fulfill their commitments under the UNCRPD and consider strategic and coordinated approaches to meeting the needs of people with autism and their families,” concludes Ms Szilvásy


Towards an Autism Strategy for Europe seminar & reception

Date: Tuesday November 6, 2012

Time: Seminar sessions: 11.30am – 2.30pm & Reception: 6.30pm – 7.30pm

Location: European Parliament, rue Wiertz, Brussels, Belgium

Speakers will include:

Dr Kay Swinburne MEP for Wales (Host and Chair)

Gwenda Thomas AM, Deputy Minister for Social Services and Children, Welsh Government

Zsuzsanna Szilvásy, President of Autism-Europe

Antoni Montserrat, Directorate General for Health and Consumer Policy

Hugh Morgan OBE, Expert Advisor for ASD to the Welsh Government & CEO, Autism Cymru

Lord Dafydd Wigley, Patron, Autism Cymru

Aurélie Baranger, Director, Autism Europe

Dr Pat Matthews, Chief Executive, Irish Society for Autism

Cathy Maclean, Celtic Nations Autism Partnership

For interviews, more information and photos, please do not hesitate to contact:

Aurélie Baranger, Director of Autism-Europe: Tel: +32 (0)477 70 59 34 Email:

Cathy Maclean, Coordinator of the Celtic Nations Autism Partnership: Tel +44 (0) 77 18 52 60 24 Email:

Guides to autism that have been developed for a range of government sectors are available on the Welsh Government’s website:

For the latest news on autism in Europe, sign up for their online newsletter:


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