The Assessment of Need (also known as AON) was established under the Disability Act, 2005. An Assessment of Need is an assessment carried out by the HSE for children or young people with a disability (autism is classified as a disability). If your child has a disability or you think they may have a disability, you can apply for an Assessment of Need. In recent times the AON has been a source of legal wrangling.
In 2020 a new system was introduced called the Standard Operations Procedure under the AON Guidelines, which introduced the Preliminary Team Assessment. The Preliminary Team Assessment evidenced the presence of a disability but did not provide any formal diagnosis. This then had a knock-on effect on families seeking to access autism specific supports (e.g., an autism class). The High Court has since stated that this new procedure introduced in 2020 was unlawful and not in keeping with the Disability Act, 2005 because it did not meet the standards to provide a diagnostic assessment.
Under the Act a child/young person should receive (i) a full and complete assessment of their needs and (ii) a service statement stipulating the services required to address the needs identified in the assessment. You can apply for an Assessment of Need here: Disability Assessment – HSE.ie
After you send in your application, you will get a letter from the HSE confirming they have received your application and the date when the assessment will start. The HSE must send you this letter within 14 days of your application. If the Assessment Officer is satisfied that your child needs an assessment, they must arrange this referral within 3 months 11 of receiving your completed application. Once this referral is made there will be a further 3 months to assess your child and complete the Assessment Report this is legally mandated under the Disability Act 2005, please see section 14(1) of this Act for more information on this.
You will get a Service Statement if your child is deemed to have a disability. A Service Statement lists the services the HSE proposes to provide to meet your child’s needs and the timeframe in which those services should be provided. It is prepared by a Liaison Officer and must be completed within one month of the assessment report being completed. By law, the HSE must provide the services named in the Service Statement. The Service Statement must be clear and easily understood.
If you do have any questions on the AON process, our Information Line Team would be happy to speak through these with you.