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FG Senator calls for review of Disability Act on behalf of families of autistic children and adults – Carrigy

Joint Committee on Autism meets today with stakeholders to discuss Autism Policy

2nd March 2023 - Senator Micheál Carrigy

A number of self-advocates and families advocating for autistic children and adults are resolute in their wish that a full review of the Disability Act be carried out, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Micheál Carrigy, who is Chair of the Joint Committee on Autism, was speaking after stakeholders addressed Seanad Éireann today, to resume discussions on Autism Policy.

“I was extremely happy to welcome a number of families representing the autism community to the Seanad today,” Senator Carrigy stated.

“We also heard insights from a number of self advocates, some of whom are currently in third level education or in the workforce.

“Resoundingly, families feel that their needs are not being met adequately by the Disability Act in its current form. Legally, the Act entitles people to an assessment of needs, but not to the follow up services which are so important.

“We have heard how often, a diagnosis of autism is given to a person, but this only signals the start of a long, frustrating and often fruitless journey to accessing appropriate therapies.

“There are currently long waiting lists for assessment of needs, and once a diagnosis has been made, there are insufficient professionals within the system to provide the badly needed services and therapies that should follow.

“We have heard stories of families waiting up to four years for intervention after receiving a diagnosis. Early intervention is key, so this cannot continue.”

Earlier this week, the Committee heard from the Psychological Society of Ireland, The Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists and the Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland.

Senator Carrigy continued: “All stakeholders; clinical practitioners, therapists, advocates and self-advocates agree that the Disability Act needs reform. At the very minimum, a review must be carried out to assess if it fully caters for and responds to the need of the whole community.

“Yesterday, the Disabilities portfolio fully transferred from the Department of Health to the Department of Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth. This move means that disability is now firmly placed rightly alongside equality.

“The next step must be to ensure that legislation reflects that same equality and that those of all ages with autism and disabilities are given the same services and opportunities as everyone.”

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