SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has welcomed the passing of the Autism (Amendment) Bill in the Assembly on Monday.
Mr McGrath said the bill would make a real difference to people with autism and their families.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“We have made huge strides in the help and support available to people with autism over the past few decades and it’s important that as our society changes we update our legislation to reflect that. Support for people with autism has always been an issue close to the SDLP’s heart, with the late SDLP MLA John Fee introducing the first motion on autism to the Assembly in 2002 and Dominic Bradley introducing the previous Autism Bill.
“Autism is a complex issue, there is a wide spectrum of people with different needs requiring a varied level of assistance in order to live their lives to the fullest. As we have learned more about the condition and how it impacts people we have been able to adapt our approach to develop a world friendlier for people with autism.
“While progress has been made, we still have a long way to go to create a society that caters for the needs of people with autism and similar conditions. We are lucky to have an excellent community and voluntary sector that contributes so much to people with autism but too often they have to provide support because there is nothing else available. We also need to reform the way PIP assessments are carried out for those with autism, with the current situation putting people at an unfair disadvantage.
“This bill is an important piece of legislation and shows what good can be achieved at Stormont when we put people first and focus on improving their lives. People with autism may sometimes experience struggles, but with some help and compassion they are capable of achieving great things. On Monday MLAs did our bit to help make the world a brighter place for them.”