National Autism Strategy needed now

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
27 June 2022

Labour Autism Bill to be debated this Wednesday 29th June
Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has demanded real, tangible and immediate action from the Government to address the serious and significant issues people and children with autism face accessing education and healthcare.

Calling for cross-party support ahead of a debate on Labour’s Autism Bill this Wednesday (29th, June) Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“The harsh reality young people with autism and their parents face is one of relentless pressure and something tangible needs to happen for them now. Approximately 270 children are without a school place for this coming September. Many more are waiting years for assessments and basic interventions. This is nothing short of scandalous. We also have 15,500 children and young people forced to leave their own catchment area, some traveling over 100km, to access education. This is simply not acceptable in any fair and equal society.

“These issues were strongly highlighted last week in the report of the Ombudsman for Children, which suggests that the Department of Education is failing children with special educational needs. The Government needs to get real and address the serious and significant issues people with autism face right across Ireland. We believe from education to health to work we need a national autism strategy that can knit all of these things together to help people get on and thrive.  

“Labour’s Autism Bill, to be debated this Wednesday, proposes a National Autism Strategy to address the inadequacy of services for people with autism and their families. It will create a coherent framework for addressing the needs of people with autism. The pressing need for this has become so vivid in recent months by the heroic work of so many brave parents campaigning to highlight the injustices they, and their children, face every single day. That need has been clear for a long time for the parents of children with autism who have been waiting for so long to see proper and effective provision made for their children.

“The Ombudsman for Children’s report is plain and direct. The current failures in the system amount to discrimination against children with special educational needs, especially those with autism. We know that other countries do so much better than us. They have proper workforce planning in place, they know the numbers of places required and they make it happen come what may. The reality is that we, as a State, are letting so many of our most vulnerable children down and we need to face up and get to grips with that.

“A good start for would be for full cross party support for Labour’s Autism Bill this Wednesday that proposes a National Autism Strategy without delay.”

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