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(Ireland) "There will be demand for more than 20,000 ASD assessments"

July 12, 2022, Irish Times: Families paying thousands to have children privately assessed due to HSE backlog Autism charity chief tells Oireachtas committee of long waits for access to supports
Many families are being pushed into poverty to pay for private assessments and services for children with disabilities due to a huge backlog in HSE services, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Adam Harris, chief executive of autism charity AsIAm, said autistic people are waiting too long to receive timely access to supports such as assessment, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and psychological supports.

“Too many people are forced to access private services at an enormous personal and family cost, which pushes many people towards poverty,” he said….

Mr Harris said the system will come under even greater pressure next year, with latest projections indicating there will be demand for more than 20,000 assessments. Yet, he said, the system had struggled to complete about 6,000 assessments last year.

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Autism was also told on Tuesday that a shortage of professionals for vital therapeutic roles has reached “crisis” levels.

Fianna Fáil TD Joe Flaherty said in the Longford-Westmeath area alone there were more than 700 children waiting for assessments for an average of 2½ years. Some children, he said, were waiting in excess of four years….

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disability Anne Rabbitte: acknowledged the current recruitment model for therapists and other professional roles 'isn’t working'. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

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