Harris announces €2m funding for autism awareness plan

More must be done to ‘autism-proof’ services, Minister for Health says

Minister for Health Simon Harris said the purpose of the autism plan was to “increase knowledge and change attitudes” in relation to a misunderstood condition. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Health Simon Harris said the purpose of the autism plan was to “increase knowledge and change attitudes” in relation to a misunderstood condition. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

A €2 million campaign to ensure that parents and children have information about services available to people with autism has been announced by Minister for Health Simon Harris.

Mr Harris’s brother Adam has autism and is the founder and chief executive of the AsIAm charity.

The Minister said the purpose of the autism plan was to “increase knowledge and change attitudes” in relation to a misunderstood condition.

Autism is a neuro-developmental disability that causes difficulties in communication, forming relationships, understanding abstract concepts and sensory processing. People living with autism experience varying levels of challenges and needs.

The purpose of the campaign will be to “support and to educate” people who have autism and their families, the Minister said.

He added: “We want to improve the information provided to people with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and their families and help guide them to the supports available from our health service throughout their lives and to create a wider public environment in Ireland that was more aware of the lives, needs and experiences of people with ASD.”

He acknowledged the Government needed to do more for people with autism. “As Minister for Health, I believe we must do more to help autism-proof our health services and the funding secured in Budget 2020 will really help us to reach that goal,” he said.