Maria Miller has pledged her support to change attitudes towards people with learning disabilities such as Autism as part of World Autism Week 26 March-2 April.
Maria joined a group of Basingstoke parents and carers to talk about the continuing challenges they face in helping children reach their potential in life.
Speaking after meeting parents Maria said, " There are still daunting obstacles to face when caring for a child with autism. Members of the Basingstoke NAS have shared with me the challenges they have encountered in getting a diagnosis for autism and then securing the right care and education for their children. Most feel their children will find it tough to live an independent life because of the lack of understanding about Autism amongst employers and the broader community.
"World Autism Week is an opportunity to continue to raise awareness of Autism and to challenge outdated perceptions. The NAS do an incredible job supporting parents, carers and those with Autism and the wider community can do so much more to make sure people with Autism are valued for the contribution they make.
"Many people with autism can lead independent lives with the right support and employment. More and more employers are making the right adjustments to enable those with learning disabilities to show their talents when applying for a job.
"Last month I launched the Basingstoke Inclusion Zone with the support of Mencap, to help identify those employers who actively want to support people with a learning disability into employment - to give people applying for jobs the confidence to know they will be treated fairly and parents that peace of mind too.
"The AA, Fujitsu, Sainsbury's, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Marks and Spencer and Great Guns Marketing are just some of those who have signed up to the new scheme.
“With 1200 new school places and a new school in Rooksdown, we must ensure that the system continues to find ways of nurturing children with autism."
Maria volunteers for a local Basingstoke Charity that supports adults with learning disabilities such as Autism.