At a packed reception at the Houses of Parliament Mr Madders, a member of the all-party parliamentary group on autism, heard moving testimonies from people living with autism, a lifelong condition which is said to affect more than 3,000 people in every parliamentary constituency.
The event was attended by nearly 100 parliamentarians and the president of the National Autistic Society, actress and author Jane Asher, who said: “Awareness of the word autism has increased dramatically since I first became involved many years ago but understanding of this complex condition is still desperately low. That’s why I’m very grateful that so many parliamentarians came to the event.
“Parliamentarians have the power to make a real change in the lives of those with autism by helping us to spread understanding among their local communities. I do hope they will work with us in trying to make the world a more welcoming place for those affected and their families.”
Mr Madders said: “I was impressed and moved by what I heard today from people living with autism.
“More than one in 100 people in the UK have the condition and many have battled to get their needs identified, diagnosed, understood and then met.
“We heard how negative public attitudes and misconceptions about autism can harm families and individuals and limit their opportunities.”
He added: “I plan to raise awareness of this condition to improve access to public spaces, employment and services. This will enable more people living with autism to play an active role in their community and to achieve their full potential.”
The all-party group of MPs and peers was set up in February 2000.