THIS week marks World Autism Awareness Week, when campaigners will seek to raise further awareness of the condition and improve the lives of those affected by it.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. It is also much more common than most people think. There are around 700,000 people in the UK living with autism – that's more than one in 100.

Awareness raising, such as through World Autism Awareness Week, is to be welcomed as more and more people gain a better understanding of the condition and how we can support children and young people with autism.

However, there is much work still to be done. We are concerned, like many, at the level of cutbacks in services supporting those with autism, and while as an organisation we support a presumption to mainstream – that those with additional support needs such as autism be taught in mainstream classes – we have raised our worries over the amount of training and resources dedicated to this.

Teaching in as mainstream class may also not be right for every child, the alternative being to teach such pupils in specialist units within mainstream schools or in dedicated specialist schools. Ultimately the focus must be on the needs of the child or young person concerned.

So, whether it's a walk or cycle, a cake sale, a quiz or other challenge, use this week to make it a better world for autistic people.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition: Tom McGhee, Chairman, Spark of Genius; Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive, Who Cares? Scotland; Stuart Jacob, Director, Falkland House School; Niall Kelly, Managing Director, Young Foundations,

4 Queen Street, Edinburgh.