Will your candidates stand up for autism?
In 2010 there will be a general election in the United
We need your help to make sure that everyone who might
become an Member of Parliament after the general
election knows about autism and will stand up for people
with autism if they are elected.
The people who might become MPs after the election
are called parliamentary candidates.
This guide tells you:
1. more about who Members of Parliament are and
what they do
2. more about what a general election is
3. why it is important to tell your parliamentary
candidates about autism
4. some ideas about what you can say to your
5. how to contact your parliamentary candidates
If you have questions about what you read in this
guide, or would like more help to tell your
parliamentary candidates about autism, you can
contact the NAS Campaigns Team:
Email – email@example.com
Phone – 020 7923 5799
Write to – The National Autistic Society, 393 City Road,
London, EC1V 1NG
1. Who are Members of Parliament and what do they do?
Members of Parliament are called MPs.
There are 646 MPs who each represent a different
part of the United Kingdom. The part of the United
Kingdom that an MP represents is called their
MPs work at Parliament. This is where they talk
about making new laws or changing old ones.
Laws are the rules which tell us what we can do.
For example, it is law that children have to go to
Most MPs are members of political parties.
Political parties are groups of people who have
different ideas about laws.
The party with the most MPs is the Government.
The Government decides how much money to
spend on different things such as hospitals, roads
One MP from the party with the most MPs
becomes the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister
is in charge of Government.
Other MPs from the party with the most MPs
become ministers in the Government. Each
minister is in charge of different things like schools
MPs who are not the Prime Minister or a
Government minister are called backbenchers.
They are still important because they have a vote
when laws are being made.
MPs who are backbenchers also help to make sure
that the Government is doing a good job by asking
them questions in Parliament.
There are lots of things that MPs can do to help people with
All MPs have a vote when new laws are being
made. They can use their vote to help make
laws better for people with autism.
MPs who are backbenchers can ask the
Government questions about the things that they
are doing to help people with autism.
MPs who are Government minister or even the
Prime Minister help make decisions about how
money will be spent, including on services for
people with autism.
MPs can also ask the people who make decisions
about local services, like your council, how they
are helping people with autism.
2. What is a general election?
A general election is when people from across the
United Kingdom choose who their MP is.
In each constituency there will be several people
who want to become an MP after the general
election. They are called candidates.
When the general election happens, the people
who live in the constituency vote for the candidate
that they want to be their Member of Parliament.
The candidate that gets the most votes becomes the
MP for that constituency.
Almost everyone who is aged 18 and over can vote in
a general election and everyone’s vote is equally
The Electoral Commission have written easy to read
guides to voting that tell you more about how to vote
and why it is important. There are different guides for
people who live in England and Wales, Northern
Ireland and Scotland.
You can read the guides on the internet at:
Or you can contact the Electoral Commission by calling
0845 8500 501 or emailing
Why is it important to tell your candidates about autism?
Before the general election, candidates say what
things they would do if they became an MP.
Candidates hope that people will think that the things
they say they would do are good ideas and vote for
That means it is a good time to ask candidates to help
people with autism if they become an MP. They will
need to know about autism so they know how they can
What should I say to my candidates about autism?
There are lots of things that you could say about
autism. We have written some ideas here, but there
might be other things that you want to tell your
For example, if you have autism, or you are a family
member of someone with autism you could tell your
candidates about your own experiences. That will help
them to understand more about autism and the help
that people need.
Some other things you could say are:
- One person in every 100 has autism. That’s
half a million people in the UK. But lots of
people don’t know how many people have
- Autism is a lifelong disability. That means that
it affects children and adults.
- People with autism find it difficult to tell people
what they need, and how they feel. They find it
difficult to meet other people and to make new
friends. They find it difficult to understand what
other people think.
- But with the right help people with autism can
still do a lot of things and learn a lot of skills.
- Every person with autism is different. But there are some
problems that affect lots of people with autism.
o Lots of children with autism don’t get the help they
need at school. Some of the things that would change
if every local area had schools that were
good for children with autism
if teachers and other people who work in
schools knew more about autism
if schools made better plans about how
they will help children with autism
o Lots of adults with autism don’t get the help they need.
Some of the things that would change that are:
if local areas knew how many adults with
autism lived in their area so they can
make plans about services
if more people who work with adults with
autism understood how they can help
if there was more help for adults with
o Lots of adults with autism want to work. They should
get help to find a job. Some adults with autism can’t
work. They should be able to get benefits from the
Government. But often they find it hard to get the
help they need.
o One of the types of support that helps lots of people
with autism is called social care. Social care is help
for people with their day-to-day lives. It could
mean help with making a meal. It could also mean
help to do the things you like to do. Often people talk
about the social care that older people need, but
there are lots of younger disabled people who also need
social care. That includes lots of people with autism.
o The government has written a plan for England about
how to make help for adults with autism better, called
the Adult Autism Strategy. We will need MPs help to
make sure that the plan is put into practice. There
are also plans about help for people with autism in
Wales and Northern Ireland, and the NAS is
campaigning for a law in Scotland which would mean
that the Scottish Government had to write a plan about
helping people with autism.
If your candidates want to find out more about autism, they
can also contact The National Autistic Society by calling 020
7923 5799 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to contact your candidates
There are lots of different ways to tell your candidates
- write a letter about autism to your candidates
- write an email about autism to your candidates
- you could ask to meet your candidates face-to-face to
talk to them about autism
- candidates sometimes go to meetings called hustings
where local people can ask them questions about what
they would do if they became an MP. You could go to
a husting to ask your candidates a question about
autism. You can find out if there are any hustings in
your area by asking one of your candidates, or looking
out for notices in places like your local library.
- candidates try to talk to as many local people as
possible during the election. So one of your
candidates may come to your house. If they come to
your house, you don’t have to talk to them. But if you
want to talk to them, it will be a chance to tell them
- candidates read local papers, so you could write to
your local paper about autism. There is a letter to help
you do this on the NAS website
- sometimes candidates are guests on local radio
shows. If they are, you could phone the show to
ask a question about autism.
- if you are a member of a local autism group, you could
invite your candidates to come to one of your meetings.
There is a letter to help you do this on the NAS website
You can find out who your candidates are on the NAS website
Once the general election has been officially announced, we will
put more information on our website. Then you will be able to:
- take part in our campaigner action by sending an email
to your candidates asking them to stand up for autism if
they are elected
- tell us what you would do if you were Prime Minister for a
- apply to get support and training to help you to meet
your MP regularly after the general election
- find out what other organisations are doing to prepare
for the election and how you can get involved
If you don’t use the internet, you can also call the NAS campaigns
team on 020 7923 5799 to find out who your candidates are, or
more about how you can get involved.