Today, AsIAm, Ireland’s National Autism Charity launched a new National Autism Information Line. The new service was officially announced today at an event at the Department of Justice by Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbitte, T.D. along with key stakeholders and members of the autism community.
The new Autism Information Line is a free telephone information line, email and webchat service developed by AsIAm and funded by the HSE. It provides information, guidance and signposting support to autistic people and their support networks. The support team is made up a small number of appropriately qualified and trained staff, providing an individualised response to each enquiry as quickly as possible. The line has been piloted over a two-month period and has dealt with over 700 queries in this time. The hours of the service and the number of people operating it will now be increased due to the support of the HSE.
This new information line is a key part of AsIAm’s aim to support and empower autistic people and build the capacity of community members to address the day-to-day challenges and barriers which they encounter. It is just one in a suite of new supports and services which the organisation has launched to address the major increase in need and demand for support which had arisen due to the challenges experienced by community members during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new service is supported by Eithne and Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Fund, The Ireland Fund, The Community Foundation for Ireland and The Keith Duffy Foundation.
Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm stated “We are so proud to have developed this new Information Line Service to support our community at a critical time. Autistic people simply want the same chance to go to school, access healthcare services, gain employment and to be accepted in the community for who we are. Too often autistic people and their families do not have timely access to information and support or face structural barriers to inclusion which leave families unsure of where to turn to.
“We see the Information Line providing a space where community members are met where they are at, listened to and receive useful guidance for specific challenges that they may face. The Information Line is by no means a substitute for timely, individualised support but will provide a concrete, practical support at a time when queries to our organisation have risen by over 300% and many people are waiting lenghty periods to access the professional support they so need and deserve.”
Speaking at the launch the Minister said: “I’m so delighted to see this Information Line become a reality. As the Minister for Disability, I really do believe that the support this line will offer cannot be underestimated and I think will be majorly useful resource to people across the country. I’m delighted that I am able to support the work AsIAm are doing with the Information Line through the relationship they have with the HSE. It’s clear to me that autistic people and their families can often have so many questions, but we don’t have a clearly signposted system in place to help support people with clear, concise information. I hope this will be the first step of many towards developing a more streamlined approach to how we can support autistic people overcome whatever obstacles they are facing day to day.”
Bernard O’Regan, HSE Assistant National Director, Disability Operations said, “I’m delighted that the HSE has partnered with AsIAm on this Information Line. This is one of a range of initiatives we are supporting to improve the experiences of autistic people, their families and staff. Later this year we will publish a directory of services on hse.ie that is being developed in partnership with the autistic community as part of the Autism Programme.”
People can call 0818 234 234 on Tuesday and Wednesday from 9am-4pm or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The instant messaging service is currently being piloted and open on Monday and Thursday from 9am-12noon and can be accessed using the speech bubble at the bottom right corner of the screen on the website.