I along with my colleagues in the Regional Group successfully progressed the Autism Spectrum Disorder Bill 2017 through Second Stage in the Dáil.

Regional Groups members state that no additional delays should be imposed by the Government in order to have this Bill enacted as quickly as possible.

“The Bill seeks to provide for the development and implementation of a cross Department Multi-Agency Strategy to provide and implement services for autistic people.

The Regional Group of TDs continue to highlight that autism is not a health issue but a human rights issue.

“Regional group members state that no strategy has been put in place since the European Commission approved the Charter of Rights for People with Autism in 1996. The Charter states that autistic people should have the same rights enjoyed by all EU citizens and these rights should be enforced by legislation. This has yet to happen in Ireland”.

On average the annual cost per child for families amounted to more than €28,000 related to private services, lost income, and informal care. Service provision for autistic people should not be discretionary, it should be a right protected in our legislation.

For the state not to do anything will cost more in the long run.

Financial pressure is acutely felt by families who assume full-time caring roles for their autistic children, reporting that existing social welfare payments are insufficient to cover the costs of therapy and additional support.

The Regional members intend to work with all Oireachtas parties and stakeholders to ensure that this legislation is fit for purpose and successful progresses through the next stages in the Dáil. It will be a game changer for autistic people as it will enshrine their rights in law”.