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University of Northampton calls for more support for 7.5M on autistic spectrum

University project calls on policy-makers to further support around 7.5 million people in Europe who are autistic and their families. 

The ESIPP project (Equity and Social Inclusion through Positive Parenting) calls for policy-makers to improve quality of life of people on the autism spectrum and their families through parent education.

The ESIPP project, led in the UK by Dr David Preece as part of the University of Northampton’s Centre for Education and Research, has been designed to develop an evidence-based parent education programme and training materials to help parents to understand their children with autism and manage their behaviour effectively.

Dr David Preece, from the University of Northampton commented:

“The ESIPP project was developed to make parent education about autism available to families who otherwise could not access such knowledge. This project has shown the benefits of providing accurate information and effective strategies to parents in these countries. They feel more confident about supporting their children, and more able to respond to their needs. And family life has become happier too.”

Research and recommendations from the project shows that providing accurate information about autism to parents and teaching them to adapt their parenting using good autism practice, helps to improve outcomes for autistic people and their families. However, such support is extremely limited or non-existent in some European countries. To help fill the gap, the ESIPP project was established in 2015. Its purpose is to develop parent education in autism tailored to the needs of families and autistic people in the FYR of Macedonia, Cyprus and Croatia.

Supporting families is of paramount importance and is also an obligation, according to the Preamble and Article 23 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD)- ratified by the European Union and its member states.

The ESIPP project strongly recommends European countries should ensure the development of effective parent trainings to foster a “positive approach to autism” and respond to the need for support of millions of families across Europe. In line with the project’s findings, this will contribute to the full implementation of the UNCRPD.

Parent training is an effective way to empower families and people on the autism spectrum as well as to improve their quality of life, outcomes and inclusion in society.

The projects findings highlight the fact that:

Parents training noticeably improve the quality of life of autistic people and their families and should therefore be supported and further developed;

Autistic people and their families face many structural obstacles – having a significant impact on access to rights as well as their quality of life – that should also be addressed.

Download the ESIPP Recommendation for policy-makers in full: English version

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