Dalli calls for European strategy on autism, welcomes plans for autism legislation

As the world marks Autism Day, Labour MEP Miriam Dalli calls for a European strategy promoting research and studies

 Miriam Dalli together with Autism Europe director Aurelie Baranger as part of the World Autism Day campaign 'Respect, Acceptance, Inclusion'
Miriam Dalli together with Autism Europe director Aurelie Baranger as part of the World Autism Day campaign 'Respect, Acceptance, Inclusion'

As the world today marks Autism Day, Labour MEP Miriam Dalli called for a European strategy that promotes research and studies to help children who fall within the autism spectrum.

Dalli said the earlier the diagnosis, the better a strategy can be developed to help autistic people overcome the challenges they face every day.

“We need a European strategy that promotes research, detailed studies and the use of best practices based on scientific evidence so that our children can eventually be treated in the best possible manner, and adults be provided with the required support and rehabilitation services,” Dalli said.

Dalli made reference to the difficulties that autistic students face in their academic life. Quite a number of them face difficulties to advance further in their educational career not because they lack intelligence or they are not capable to specialize in their studies but because of lack of flexibility in the educational system, she argued.

The MEP argued that the European Union should must introduce a holistic strategy. Supported by 418 MEPs, Dalli presented a written declaration to the European Commission pushing for the adaptation of a strategy on autism.

“We need to have a European Sarategy on autism and it is extremely important that Member States have their own strategy focused on this condition. What Malta is doing in this regard is extremely positive. Having a law on autism should provide all the possible opportunities to autistic persons,” Dalli said.

With the aim to address autism and the wide spectrum of this condition, the European Union took a number of initiatives to promote research and to evaluate different aspects of social integration.

But one of the greatest challenges is that the autism’s wide spectrum continues to change. This means that there are various types of autism, which vary according to symptoms and age amongst others.

The EU’s Health Programme supports the European Autism Information System, which aims to support an early diagnosis and to evaluate the necessary tools. So as to have an effective system, the European Parliament allocated funds to the European Commission to implement a pilot project spread on 12 zones. This initiative was adopted in 2015.

Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) is investing €24 million on 21 research projects about autism, whilst the European Commission is supporting the Autism Europe association to safeguard the rights of autistic people through programmes such as PROGRESS, Grundtvig and programmes that focus on social integration, equality and to fight discrimination.

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