As I watch my granddaughter hunting Easter eggs, I know that it is time to count life’s blessings.
So this has been a week for me to focus on some of those parents who face a far more challenge task than I ever did, bringing up an autistic child and providing that child with the support to live life as independently and satisfyingly as possible.
Parents have talked to me particularly of difficulties in finding support for children with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism. These children have a high IQ and often exceptional brilliance in a particular area.
They can be invisible to the system because they do not have learning difficulties in the classic sense and are not mentally ill. But they struggle with social interaction and communication and perhaps have obsessive or repetitive behaviours which leave them isolated from the youngsters around them and often regarded as badly behaved and a problem by teachers.
The unhappiness that results can drive youngsters into terrible depression and the lack of communication can stop them developing the skills to live independent lives.
We need to look again at the role of special schools, at very different training for teachers, health workers and others in the mainstream system and at the transition from school to adulthood when almost all support systems fall apart.
The shortage of Education Psychologists is a scandal and the limited access to speech and other therapies has to change. I am supporting Cheryl Gilan’s Autism Bill which will at least cause us to count these children and recognise their needs.
And as a society, we must learn to understand and behave with respect to those of us who live with different abilities from our own.