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Councillor resigns from children’s committee over autism comments

A Solihull councillor has resigned from her position after comments she made about children with autism.

Cllr Angela Sandison (Con, St Alphege) questioned whether autism was being “over-diagnosed” and is accused of suggesting mothers are too often “on their phone” and that this could be causing increasing rates.

An investigation was launched following the meeting of the children’s education and skills scrutiny committee meeting on September 22.

Read more: Solihull councillor accused of blaming ‘mums on phones not looking at babies’ for autism in kids

The North Solihull Additional Needs Parent Support Group said around 100 “upset and angry” parents had been in touch – and relayed their complaints to the council.

Council leader Cllr Ian Courts (Con, Dorridge & Hockley Heath) has today (Friday) announced Cllr Sandison has stepped down from the committee.

A statement from Cllr Sandison said: “In no way is autism due to bad parenting. Autism is real and I in no way meant to blame parents. I unreservedly apologise.

“I am very sorry for the upset caused and I would like to offer my resignation from the scrutiny board.”

Cllr Courts said the situation has been discussed with the council’s monitoring officer “who will follow the Council’s process with regard to the members’ code of conduct”.

He said: “I have spoken with Cllr Sandison who is deeply upset at the distress felt by so many of our parents and carers. She has explained to me that it was certainly not her intention to cause distress.

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“All of us who have the privilege to live, work and learn in Solihull are committed to doing our very best for all our children and young people.

“To this end I will be working with our key stakeholders, including parents and carers, to provide further learning for all elected members on all aspects of working and living with children and young people with special needs.”

A spokesperson for the North Solihull Additional Needs Parent Support Group has previously said autism is a “neurodevelopmental disorder not as a result of parental neglect”.

They accused Cllr Sandison and a senior Solihull Council officer – accused of nodding in agreement – of being “ignorant” of the subject and said it would result in policy “based on media articles and a lack of evidence”.

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