Hundreds of people attended a special service to mark Autism Sunday 2009 - the International Day of Prayer for Autism and Asperger's Syndrome on 8 February. Cheryl Gillan MP is introducing an Autism Bill in parliament.
The congregation was joined at the London event by parents, carers, children and adults with autism and Asperger's Syndrome who travelled from many parts of London to be there.
Parliamentarians, councillors and heads of UK charities were also present at the service conduced by Rev Paul Harcourt who has a child living with autism. The service was held at All Saint's Church, Woodford Wells in the London Borough of Redbridge with a congregation of 600 people.
The Financial Secretary to Her Majesty's Treasury, Minister Stephen Timms MP, The Chair of the powerful Foreign Affairs Committee Mike Gapes MP and the Select Committee on Health member Lee Scott MP attended the service together with the Deputy Mayor of Redbridge Cllr Hinds.
A moving part of the service was when parents, carers and the Autism Community came together for a time of prayer. Ellie Zavaroni diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome recited a poem on autism affects her and 13 year old Charin Corea who has autism gave the final blessing.
David Cameron, leader of the Opposition, had written to Ivan and Charika Corea supporting Autism Sunday. Cameron said: "I would like to express my support for Autism Sunday. As many as one in a hundred people could be affected by some form of autism, and it is important that we recognise and raise awareness of the difficulties and challenges that they can face."
David Drew MP tabled a motion in the House of Commons on Autism Sunday 2009: "That this House warmly welcomes the news that cathedrals, churches and religious organisations in the United Kingdom and around the world are observing Autism Sunday, the International Day of Prayer for autism and Asperger's syndrome on Sunday 8 February 2009 with prayers for over 60 million people with autism across many nations; notes that Autism Sunday was co-founded by British autism campaigners Ivan and Charika Corea and the inspiration behind the Autism Awareness Campaign is their 13 year old Charin who has autism spectrum disorder; further notes that world leaders, including the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, have been asked to speak up for autism and Asperger's syndrome on Autism Sunday; calls on church leaders and all faith communities to reach out to parents, carers, children and adults with autism and Asperger's syndrome, especially during the economic downturn; urges the Prime Minister and Her Majesty's Government to provide further financial support to parents, carers and people with autism and Asperger's syndrome in order for them to cope with life during the deepening economic recession; further calls for an end to re-possessions of homes of families with autism; and believes that all faith communities in the United Kingdom have a role to play in addressing the needs of the marginalised, the socially excluded and the vulnerable."