A Fine Gael Bill will see over 60,000 families benefit from greater supports for children with autism.
The Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Bill calls for a Government strategy to be published on how to address the needs of people with ASD throughout their lives.
The Bill, put forward by Senator James Reilly, will again be considered by the Seanad tomorrow (Wednesday).
Senator Reilly said: “One in 68 children is now on the autism spectrum, meaning over 60,000 families in Ireland are struggling for greater supports for a loved one with the condition.
“I hope to see this Bill become law by Christmas, giving new hope and encouragement to those who face the challenge of autism.
“While some progress has been made in our understanding of ASD, no consensus exists on how to screen and diagnose for it or provide clinical care or educate people with ASD. That is not just the case in this country but right across Europe.
“However, England, France, Canada, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have strategies and we need one too.
“We need a concise plan in order to address what is becoming an increasing epidemic that will be a huge burden on the finances of this State.
“We need to intervene at the appropriate time, diagnose early and put in place the supports that can allow people with this condition to live a much more independent life.
“In short, what we need is a strategy that cuts across all Departments and acknowledges that every Department has a role to play and needs to be informed.
“I hope to see the Bill pass through the Seanad this week, bringing us another step forward to helping those with the disorder to reach their full potential.
“It will then go before the Dáil and hopefully be signed into law before Christmas.
“I’d like to thank the over 20,000 people who signed an online petition calling for this proposed legislation to become law, and I would encourage people to keep signing to support this very worthy Bill at http://bit.ly/2tDMiJq.
“I would also like to thank my Seanad colleagues and the Minister for Health Simon Harris for their help and support.”