AsIAm’s response to RTÉ Investigates on the failures of the HSE assessment processes

AsIAm, Ireland’s Autism Charity, notes with great concern the content of this evening’s RTE Investigates Programme on the failures of the HSE assessment processes, which in turn have forced many families to access private services which are not statutorily regulated. We know the revelations within the programme will cause anxiety for many families, particularly those who received assessments from the individual profiled in the programme.

First, we want to assure families that we are advocating at the highest levels, with all relevant statutory agencies to ensure that no child or adult is disadvantaged or loses the supports that they need. AsIAm will continue this work following tonight’s program and will continue to keep the community informed of any developments. We know many individuals and families tonight will have questions and our Information Line will be open to families to raise these questions and concerns in the time ahead – where answers are not immediately available, we will work hard to get the information and reassurance that individual cases require.

Secondly, the State’s failure to deliver timely assessment services, protect the term “psychologist” and regulate private practice has had serious implications for many families and individuals, as evident in tonight’s program. We would remind families who were forced to go privately and who now have questions about the diagnosis they received to remember their right to access an Assessment of Need.  We will be advocating strongly that the State has a moral imperative to provide this support in a timely manner provided for by law, under the Disability Act, 2005.

It is vital that the State now moves to take decisive action to ensure that no child ever needs to access private services to vindicate their unequivocal right to an assessment.

Trust is a rare commodity in our community; a community which has experienced more than its fair share of systemic failures and crises. Tonight’s programme will cause anxiety and upset for many, but we do want to assure families that the vast majority of practitioners operating in private practice are highly qualified professionals who care deeply for our community.

We advise individuals and families to only ever engage with psychologists who are engaged in voluntary regulation through the Psychological Society of Ireland. The best way for the State to begin to restore trust is to resource and regulate without delay.

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