Deputy Tully has highlighted the failure to provide a needs assessment within six months - last year the average waiting period was 19 months.

Six months assessment of need target routinely missed for children with ASD - Tully

The routine breaching of failure to carry out an Assessment of Need within six months was highlighted by a local Sinn Féin TD on World Autism Awareness Day.

Deputy Pauline Tully made her comments as she gave her full support behind AsIAM’s ‘Say Yes to Autism Acceptance’ campaign.

The campaign will run throughout the month of April.

Spokesperson on Disabilities, Pauline Tully said it is important that this campaign is used as a tool to highlight the issues that people with autism face on a regular basis.

“These yearly campaigns have really helped to break down barriers and create a greater understanding of what autism is and the experiences of people with autism," she said.

Deputy Tully further used the occasion to stress the need for ratification of the optional protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) .

"Establishing rights is so important but ensuring these are upheld is critical.

“We see this every day with the Assessment of Need process. While there is a legal requirement to carry out an Assessment of Need within six months the average waiting time, as of July 2020, was 19 months. 5,000 children were waiting longer than the law permits for an assessment. And this is only the tip of the ice-berg as while the law stipulates that an assessment should be carried out within this timeframe, although as we know this is often not the case.

“There is no statutory timeframe of access to the supports, services or therapies stipulated as needed within the assessment. This is a growing issue and needs to be urgently addressed.

Meanwhile AsIAm, Ireland's National Autism Charity, has welcomed the announcement by Minister of State for Disability, Anne Rabbitte, that she will establish a working group to lead the drafting and implementation of an Autism Innovation Strategy. The Minister made the announcement at AsIAm's World Autism Day webinar.

AsIAm CEO Adam Harris welcomed the announcement , noting it has "been long sought for by, and promised to, the autism community".

"Ireland has been left behind in the area of autism policy and in many parts of the country vital supports in areas such education, healthcare continue to be either non existent or cracking at the seams. This announcement is critical at a time when autistic people and our families have been shook by the revelations of the RTE Investigates programme and our community has suffered greatly in the context of the loss of supports and routines arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Trust, confidence and wellbeing are at crisis point and directly involving autistic people and our families in creating a better Ireland for our community is a vital step towards a more open, transparent and inclusive approach to autism moving forward."

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