McCrossan: Autism Bill must address chronic lack of support

education daniel mccrossan autism

SDLP Education Spokesperson Daniel McCrossan has said the Autism Bill must address the inadequate support and services for people with autism across the North.

Mr McCrossan said the current services were underfunded and failing to give families the support they need.

He was speaking in the Assembly on Tuesday.

The West Tyrone MLA said:

“There are few families across the North who have not been touched by autism – including my own – but despite this we still see totally inadequate services and support for people dealing with this condition.

“Over the last five years the rate of autism in schoolchildren has increased by 82% and services have remained the same with no extra resources or funding. There are currently 4,500 children on waiting lists for an autism assessment and this is absolutely appalling. Of children with autism, 86% have Special Education Needs and they also face long waiting lists for assessment.

“The SDLP has long campaigned for proper support for autism services, we brought forward the Autism Act in 2011, but these plans were never realised due a combination of lack of financial support and the collapse of the Executive.

“The Autism Bill will make a difference for people across the North, but only if it is properly resourced, financed and measured. We need to see a sea-change in how autism services are delivered, and we need to see tangible results.

“We also need to see DUP Educaton Minister Michelle McIlveen make good on her predecessors' promise that mandatory autism training will be introduced for teachers in the North. Given that 78% of children with autism are in mainstream schools, it’s absolutely shocking that mandatory autism training has not been introduced here."


Font size