Lib Dem Euro MP Phil Bennion is backing an anti-bullying campaign led by autism campaigner Kevin Healey, an Ambassador for the National Autistic Society.
The Staffordshire campaigner suffers from Autism and received a death threat 18 months ago.
Phil Bennion said: “I support the campaign to raise awareness of hate crimes against people with Autistic spectrum disorders. They should not have to face abuse or lack of support from wider society.”
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.
A National Autistic Society survey of people diagnosed with the condition revealed that 81% of respondents said they had experienced verbal abuse, while 47% reported that they have been victims of a physical assault, and that 24% had been victims of cyber-bullying.
Autism UK estimates there are around 700,000 people in the UK with autism. According to Autism Europe, clinical studies show that the incidence of related Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is 60 in every 10,000.
Phil Bennion said: “All forms of bullying are unacceptable but those based on autism are particularly damaging. Left unchecked, abuse can escalate into serious assaults. It is important that this issue gains cross-party support from MEPs and other elected representatives.
“The EU too can play an important role in raising awareness and especially in promoting best practice among governments and local authorities across EU countries to help ensure that abuse does not take place, but when it does, victims are given the best support and bullies made to change.
“The most serious incidents should be treated as crimes and police forces need to give a high priority to bringing perpetrators to justice.”
Kevin Healey has been campaigning for more help for people with Autistic spectrum disorders for over ten years. He said: “For far too long now, adults on the spectrum have been targeted by bullies. I am a victim of bullying, from a child to a teenager, to now a grown adult at 38.
“Cyber bullying has become so severe, I have even received death threats. Cyber bullying is one of the most horrendous things I have ever experienced. Bullying is with you 24/7 and it totally consumes your life.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Kevin Healey’s campaign (http://www.autism-campaign.co.uk/) has been featured on ch5 news. One of twins, he has won a Queen’s Award for his work with the charity he founded, the Staffordshire Autistic Adults Society (SAAS).
Autism Europe is an international association whose main objective is to advance the rights of persons with autism and their families and to help them improve their quality of life: http://www.autismeurope.org/