Sir Tony Baldry comes to aid of children and families with SEN in North Oxfordshire
The third speaker event of Autism support group Parents Talking Asperger’s (PTA) took place at Bloxham Mill on 1st March 2013 and welcomed Sir Tony Baldry MP, fresh from the Second Debate Reading of the Children & Families Bill in Parliament. On 25th February, Sir Tony had given a speech in Parliament referencing questions and issues around Special Educational Needs (SEN) submitted to him by members of PTA and the group’s associated education and healthcare professionals. The Bill, currently in consultation, particularly stipulates the need for multiple healthcare and education professionals to work closely with parents to unprecedented levels, in order to facilitate the best possible educational support and life outcomes for SEN children and their families.
Founder and Principal of Parents Talking Asperger’s Karen Irvani – mother to Reza, a 13-year-old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome – opened the event to 60 parents and professionals, sharing how just under a year ago her family life had hit rock bottom leading her to set up a support forum on Facebook, and subsequently, the group. PTA now has a community of 200 parents, children, young adults and their siblings who meet in person and online to share the highs and lows of living with Asperger’s Syndrome. “Having Sir Tony here this evening means a lot. From the first time I approached him ten months’ ago about my hopes for raising awareness of Asperger’s and Autism in north Oxfordshire, he has taken continual interest in our progress, and readily agreed to give us time in a forum which is how this evening’s event came to be.”
Baldry commended the work of Parents Talking Asperger’s and was very grateful to be given such an insight into SEN issues being faced by families in his Constituency: “There couldn’t have been a better time to hold this event and I congratulate PTA’s efforts in raising awareness. Having an insight to the SEN issues that parents in North Oxfordshire are facing gave me an invaluable opportunity to ask the Minister responsible some specific questions about SEN issues during the Second Reading of the Children & Families Bill. I was fortunate to receive a response before the meeting and so circulated a copy of the Minister’s letter to all those who attended and have also put a copy of the lengthy response on my website.”
Throughout the two-hour event, parents and professionals addressed their questions to Baldry, with Master of Ceremonies Pastor John R Jeffs keeping proceedings in good and timely order.
Karen Irvani concluded, “It’s really important that we break down any barriers real or perceived that prevent parents and professionals working together for the good of children with Special Educational Needs. The time for change is now…”