Calls for autism empowerment strategy

Current services not accessible to everyone
  • Deborah Condon

The national autism charity, AsIAm, is calling on the Government to support a Sinn Féin motion seeking the establishment of an All-Party Oireachtas Committee on Autism, with the aim of developing an autism empowerment strategy.

Sinn Fein is submitting a Private Member's Bill to establish the Oireachtas Committee on World Autism Awareness Day (April 2).

This is the first Bill of its kind in Ireland and it calls for the immediate establishment of an All-Party Oireachtas Committee on Autism. This committee should be tasked with developing and publishing a comprehensive autism empowerment strategy within six months.

The strategy will aim to assess current shortcomings in relation to the supports and services that are provided by the State to people with autism and their families.

People with autism will be consulted throughout the strategy's drafting and implementation and according to the Bill, its rollout should be overseen by a multidisciplinary task force, which includes people with autism and their family members.

The Bill notes that one in every 65 school pupils, or 1.5% of the schools population, has a diagnosis of autism, and there are around 14,000 students with autism in the school system. This number is much higher than the previous estimated number of one in every 100 students.

It also points out that the current range of services for people with autism ‘are not available consistently across areas and are not accessible to everyone on the spectrum'.

The Bill is calling for an urgent review of the supports available to adults with autism throughout their lifecycle.

Research by AsIAm suggests that while a majority of people support the education of those with autism in mainstream schools, and attitudes around autism are generally positive, many people admit they do not have a good understanding of the condition.

AsIAm is calling on people to get in touch with their local TDs to emphasise that Ireland ‘needs a strategy for meaningful autism inclusion and empowerment'.

For more information on AsIAm, click here


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