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(Ireland) 75% of autistic children not receiving services; 3 yr wait for assessment

Feb 21, 2020, Dublin Journal: Three-quarters of children with autism not getting needs met in public system Some families are going into debt because of their child’s condition – one to the tune of €150,000 [$205K U.S.] A MAJORITY OF children and adolescents in Ireland with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) did not receive a service they needed, according to new research published today. Over 74% did not receive one or more services over the previous twelve months according to a survey of 195 families with 222 children. It also found that over one-third of families were in debt due to costs arising from their child’s condition. The average debt was €3,260 but one family surveyed was over €150,000 in the red. “Families are under immense pressure”, said the lead author of the study, Áine Roddy from the J.E. Cairnes School of Economics and Business at NUI Galway. She explained that they often resort to borrowing money to pay for therapies as they “know that best practice is saying children should receive early intervention”….. Almost 90% of children aged 2-4 had an unmet need for speech and language therapy. This reduced to 57% of 5-12 year olds and 48% of adolescents. There were a number of reasons for why these needs were not met. 55% were on a waiting list for a service and over 61% said the services they needed were not provided in their area. The study, which is based on a survey carried out five years ago but just published in the journal Health Policy, also found that families with two or more children with ASD were more likely to experience these unmet needs as well as incur debt, than families with one child. … The study author also acknowledged that some families feel they will get the services once their child is diagnosed but this is often not the case. “Some families wait up to two or three years for an assessment in the public system and are frustrated” as they want help. … In order to address this, Roddy said her first recommendation is to implement the promised National Autism Strategy. She was concerned that only three of the main seven parties promised this in their election manifestos: Fianna Fáil, Social Democrats and Sinn Féin. This would enable “accountability and planning to address specific needs of people with autism”. When coming up with the programme for Government, she felt “policy makers have the ability to reduce the level of pressure that falls upon these families who often face huge social isolation and financial hardship”.


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