AsIAm CEO & Founder Adam Harris tells Dáil Committee that Ireland is in breach of the UN Convention of the Rights of Person with Disabilities in the area of autism  

 

8 in 10 members of the autism community experience mental health conditions during the course of their lives 

AsIAm CEO and Founder Adam Harris has today told a Dáil Committee on Disability that there are structural flaws in the access to services for autistic people in Ireland. He welcomed the Government’s commitment to revisit legislation on the National Autism Strategy and an Autism Innovation Strategy in 12 months’ time, and believes this will be an opportunity to address the current failings  

During his opening statement to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters meeting on “Aligning Disability Services with the UNCRPD – autism and intellectual disability,” Harris stated that this strategy will serve as an “important recognition by the State to the specific needs of autistic people.” 

He added that it is vital the HSE continues to progress public supports for autistic adults to access diagnosis, support and improve accessibility to mental health services for autistic people of all ages.  

When commenting on the challenges that autistic people and families endure in accessing health services, Harris said: 

“Autistic people and our families have to fight, often until the point of fatigue, from the word go to access the most basic supports. In some instances, mainstream health services, particularly our mental health services, do not afford equality of access to care for autistic people despite 8 in 10 of our community experiencing mental health conditions during the course of our lives and autistic people – without an intellectual disability – being nine times more likely to die by suicide. This is far from a rights-based approach.”  

Regional Group Dail Eireann Autism Bill
The decision to delay implementation of an Autism Bill for a further 12 months has offered opportunities to review the system’s failings

AsIAm receives thousands of queries from the community every year, covering a broad range of topics from access to diagnosis to therapeutic supports and everything in between.  

In a recent report titled Every Child Counts the charity looked at the experiences of autistic children accessing HSE services. This report found that: 42% of families had to wait over two years to access diagnosis; 79% were not in receipt of any support from either the Early Intervention or School Aged Teams; 65% were dissatisfied with disability services; and just 7% were in receipt of any respite support.  

The consequences of these barriers result in devastating effects for autistic people and their families, including unmet needs of children and lost opportunities of community engagement which often lead to poverty and social exclusion.  

AsIAm made a number of recommendations to the committee for a full alignment between autism services and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), including obligatory training programmes in autism to all staff in disability and health services; urgently revise the HSE’s approach to autism and disability to move towards a rights-based model and to fully fund findings of the Disability Capacity Review – that identified an extra €350 million is required to fully meet the need for disability services across Ireland despite a €230 million shortfall in disability services in Budget 2022.   

Please click here for full statement  

 

 

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