Bill aims to improve autism care in State
A Private Member’s Bill requiring the Government to publish a national autism strategy is being introduced in the Dáil today.
The Autism Bill, brought forward by Labour TD for Cork South-West Michael McCarthy, aims to ensure that care for people with the condition is delivered consistently across the Republic.
It provides for data collection to record the incidence of autism, an awareness campaign and research to assess facilities for people with autism. Other measures include the development of clear pathways of care and greater support structures for those affected.
Mr McCarthy said he was motivated to sponsor the Bill following contact with parents who were concerned about the lack of service provision for people with autism spectrum disorder and the lack of knowledge that still surrounds the condition.
“Ireland is considerably behind the curve in this area and . . . legislation would be a first step in addressing the problem,” he said.
“I hope [this Bill] will not only address issues with service provision, but will also tackle a lack of awareness among the public about the condition and the absence of available data on the condition in Ireland, which could make for more efficient future planning.”
Autism Bills were passed in England and Northern Ireland in 2009 and 2011 respectively, and national strategies have been introduced in Scotland and Wales. A HSE review of autism services in Ireland found they varied greatly from comprehensive to ineffective in different regions.
It is estimated that about one child in 100 has some degree of autism.