Statement on impact of Covid on people with disabilities in health & education

AsIAm Statement ahead of Dáil Debate on impact of Covid-19 on people with disabilities in health and education

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on those with disabilities has been immense, and the Government need to support all resources to reverse this now.

The AsIAm report, Every Child Counts – based on a survey last month of 454 people’s experience with State supports in the autism community – showed that more than half of participants were very dissatisfied with HSE’s range of support services for autistic children. Minister of State for Disability, Ann Rabbittee admitted this week that there are “unacceptable” waiting times for diagnosis (on average over two years) & acknowledged the “difficulties” involved for families and individuals. The AsIAm report also found that 40% of respondents’ autistic children have regressed during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that be in their educational or interpersonal skills.

AsIAm CEO Adam Harris said: “It’s vital that this issue is discussed and debated, and that solutions and resources are put in place to address the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has on people with disabilities, including autism, especially in the areas of education and health.

“Whilst we recognise the government’s commitment to an Autism Innovation Strategy – we need to see this put in place rapidly and appropriately resources if we are to see a real impact on the ground – ensuring that those that are desperate for services and support, can readily access that now.”

Other key findings of the Every Child Counts study include:

– 80% of those surveyed with autistic children were receiving no State services.

– Seven in 10 felt broadly dissatisfied with the HSE’s support in helping them better understand their child’s autism diagnosis.

– The HSE needs to accelerate the work of its Autism Action Plan to urgently identify and address accessibility barriers, both long-term and those arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

– The Department of Health needs to Invest €2.8 million to hire 100 additional caseworkers to support Early Intervention Teams for autistic children’s referrals.


This debate will be live from the Dail at 1.45 today. You can watch LIVE here

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