December 5, 2020

‘A national scandal’ – Carlow-Kilkenny TD says State is failing children with autism

The next government must make a National Autism Empowerment Strategy a priority, Carlow-Kilkenny TD and General Election candidate Kathleen Funchion has said.

Deputy Funchion said Sinn Féin, currently riding high in the polls, will introduce an Autism Empowerment Act if they are part of the next government.

The Carlow-Kilkenny TD spoke out after a large public meeting was organised by 150 parents and teachers in Firhouse, county Dublin, pleading for more supports for autistic children in their community.

Deputy Funchion said: “The State is failing these children and their families with children’s hours and days cut due to a lack of services and resources. Many children do not attend school at all as a result. This is a national scandal.

“The failure to make diagnoses in adequate time for school applications, the lack of autism spectrum classes and places available for autistic children is a denial of a child’s right to education. These factors have created a two-tier system within our education system.”

Deputy Funchion said the dvelopment of a national strategy must be made “an absolute priority” for all TDs and political parties entering the 33rd Dail.

She added: “This past week has been challenging for autistic people. Serious issues have been highlighted in the media and a national conversation has started about what needs to urgently change for the autistic community.

“However, the issues affecting autistic children and adults and deep frustrations are long standing. They haven’t just cropped up this week. Families, children and adults have been battling for years for basic rights and entitlements.

“Children face lengthy waiting lists for assessments and struggle to locate appropriate school places. Autistic adults face huge gaps in the provision of crucial services, particularly for finding work, securing social welfare, and living independently. This is totally unacceptable and has got to change.”

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