AsIAm, Ireland’s national Autism charity, welcomes today’s final report issued by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Autism. The charity now calls on the Government to implement all of the recommendations of the report in their entirety. AsIAm is conscious that many similar reports and initiatives have not resulted in the much-needed change on the ground, leading to a loss of trust amongst the community. Therefore, it places particular importance on the specific recommendation to create a legislative mandate that obliges the Government to develop and maintain a national autism strategy in partnership with autistic people and family members. Read our explainer of the report here.
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Autism was set up in 2022 following a series of Dáil motions and Seanad debates calling for greater support for autistic people and calling on the Government to address issues such as delays in Assessment of Need, and to provide greater access to school places for autistic people who experience barriers to accessing an appropriate education in their local area. It also follows a series of bills, including those introduced by Former Minister for Health, TD and Senator James Reilly, and more recently by Independent TD Sean Canney and by Aodhán Ó Riordán and the Labour Party, all aiming to legislate for a national Autism Strategy and for improved access to services which support autistic people and families
There is widespread cross-party political support for this measure, which already exists in other jurisdictions and countries including Scotland, Northern Ireland and Malta. Furthermore, there is overwhelming public support for this initiative as seen in the recent Attitudes to Autism Poll issued in April 2023. It highlighted that 75% of the public is in favour of underpinning a national autism strategy with a legislative footing. This must happen without delay and during the lifetime of the current Government.
AsIAm would like to thank each member of the committee for their individual and collective contributions over the past nine months.