News & Media

Time for a comprehensive National Autism Strategy

14 October 2019

Statement by Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin
Spokesperson on Education and Skills, Gaeilge and the Gaeltacht

Labour Party Education spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has said it is time for the Government to do more to implement a National Autism Strategy.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“It is time for us to change the narrative on autism supports in this county and how we can improve supports to people with autism and their families.

“We know that in terms of the education sphere, there is a need for a complete sea change  in the way we provide support to children with autism, Many parents are struggling to find school places for their children. The system currently demands they find school places themselves. This is not right.

“When someone’s child gets a diagnosis, what effectively happens is they are handed a piece of paper with a list of schools with ASD supports and told to do their best. Couple this with a complete lack of early intervention and long diagnostic waiting lists. This is not good enough

“While the Minister for Health’s announcement to fund autism supports is welcome, this is not enough to bridge the massive gaps in the education sector.

“The time has come for a comprehensive National Autism Strategy to aid the State is dealing with families who have received an autism diagnosis better. A strategy like this would greatly benefit families trying to deal with an ASD diagnosis and ensure that the State is not isolating them by putting up ridiculous barriers.

“Parents and their children should not have to wage war against a system that should be caring and compassionate.

“We need our State actors to be more sympathetic and to rally around families that receive an autism diagnosis, rather than turn our backs on those who need the State’s help.”