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(Ireland) Senator calls for money for autism parents to access services

June 21, 2023, Longford Live: Longford senator leads charge to end costly burden of autism on cash strapped families

A targeted, non-means tested cost of disability payment for autistic and disabled people and their carers could be on the way thanks a new report headed up by Fine Gael Senator Micheal Carrigy.

Over 109 recommendations were contained in a milestone Oireachtas report published last week on behalf of the Joint Committee on Autism.

Its findings recommended new laws be put in place to oversee the enforcement of the State’s autism strategy, as well as a range of payments for families and individuals with autism, and measures targeted at improving conditions in the sector.

“The core to the report is number one, developing an acceptance among society of autism as well as a strategy that is underpinned by legislation which gives it legislative effect,” he said.

The former Longford County Council cathaoirleach said the report also threw the spotlight on the gaping dearth of expetise that existed within the sector.

He explained how there were in the region of 800 empty positions in Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNT) across the country.

“The reality is there is just not enough qualified people in the various services to fill these roles,” he said.

“There is just not enough people to take up these roles, so we need to incentivise people to take up third level courses,” he said.

Senator Carrigy, who has made no secret of how he is the parent of an autistic child, said the report's recommendation for financial support to be given to hard pressed families was especially noteworthy.

That conclusion proposed financial support for families who access private services “due to their unavailability in the public health system”, as well as non-means tested disability payments for autistic and disabled people and their carers who incur high levels of expenditure due to their diagnosis.

“The reality is there are families that are paying for private therapy and in some cases to the point where one parent has to give up their job,” he said.

“We have had numerous cases where families are not entitled to a support because it is means tested based on the income of the other partner,” he said.

In shaping its report, the committee heard directly from autistic self-advocates and the families of young autistic people.

That came on the back of 23 public sessions and 30 privately held sessions since its first meeting in March 2022.


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