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Proposed Bill provides for first national strategy on autism

The Dáil will debate the proposed legislation today.

File photo
File photo
Image: Young child via Shutterstock

A PROPOSED BILL to provide Ireland with a national strategy around autism will be discussed in the Dáil today.

The legislation, written and brought forward by Labour TD Michael McCarthy, allows for a “unified standard of autism care nationally”.

It also includes other measures such as an awareness campaign.

According to McCarthy, Health Minister James Reilly has indicated his support for the Bill.

“It will set out how future governments, regardless of its composition, will meet the needs of people and support them to ensure they reach their full potential regardless of where they live,” said the Cork deputy.

“I have been working on this particular issue for over a year now and it is pleasing to see it finally reach this critical stage after months of discussions with various stakeholders, ministers, officials in the Department of Health.”

McCarthy said he was contacted by “many parents” in his constituency who have concerns around the lack of service provision for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

There is still a lack of knowledge surrounding the condition, he continued.

“I was struck by their stories and after looking into the matter further, it was clear that Ireland was considerably behind the curve this area, and that legislation would be a first step in addressing the problem.”

England and Northern Ireland both have Autism Acts in place, while Scotland and Wales have implemented strategies on the issue.

About 600 children are born with autism each year in Ireland, a dramatic increase in diagnoses.

The Bill requires cooperation from various departments, including education, social protection, health and jobs. McCarthy will launch it today at 10am outside Leinster House. He will be accompanied by the CEO of the Irish Society for Autism Pat Matthews and 20-year-old Conor Deeney from Ballyliffin in Donegal, who has autism.

Read: Dentist who “raised the bar” caring for autistic patient wins top award

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