Minister for Health, Simon Harris today announced that €2 million was secured in Budget 2020 for the Autism Plan.
Over the next year, the additional funding secured will be used in a number of priority areas:
To implement a programme of awareness raising that can provide a better information resource for children and parents about what supports are available;
A campaign to assist in creating awareness of the challenges, needs and experiences of people with autism;
To build capacity and competence amongst key professionals working with autism – including a national training programme for clinicians and the implementation of a tiered model of assessment in order to improve access to and responses by services for those with ASD.
The Minister said: “I am delighted to have secured this funding, which will help deliver the autism plan.
“It is so important we increase knowledge and change attitudes. As Minister for Health, I believe we must do more to help autism-proof our health services and the funding secured in Budget 2020 will really help us to reach that goal.
“The proposed campaign will have two key aims, to support and to educate. We want to improve the information provided to people with ASD and their families and help guide them to the supports available from our health service throughout their lives and to create a wider public environment in Ireland that was more aware of the lives, needs and experiences of people with ASD.”
Minister of State for Disabilities, Finian McGrath, also welcomed the additional funding: “Improving the lives of people with Disabilities is my priority as a Minister and the planned service improvements under the Autism Plan are an important step in making services more responsive to what people have told us that they want and need.”
Following the publication of the Review of the Irish Health Services for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder in December 2018, the Minister asked the HSE to commence the implementation of the recommendations in the review.
The HSE has established a National ASD Programme Board with the key responsibility of leading the implementation of the Review report recommendations. The Board consists of senior operational and clinical decision makers as well as independent professional / academic support.
Crucially, the Programme Board will have representation of persons with lived experience of ASD participating as equal members of this important collaborative team effort.
In implementing the recommendations of the Review Report, the Programme Board has been tasked with leading out on an agreed set of priorities that will have greatest impact in terms of improving how services can be delivered to people with ASD and in respect of creating greater awareness of ASD.
In addition, the HSE are currently engaged in a reconfiguration of services under the Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People and are also in the process of improving the Assessment of Need process.
These are important structural changes that will have a positive impact on services for all children with disabilities, including those with Autism