I welcome this opportunity to brief subscribers and members of Don’t Leave Them Behind on the new Oireachtas Committee on Autism and am aware of the key issues raised by Don’t Leave them Behind in their advocacy work over several years

There is a new Oireachtas Committee on Autism established to conduct an analysis of services and experiences of autistic people,particularly autistic children.The Committee will meet and work for 9 months and then publish its report just before World Autism Day 2023 .The purpose of this work is that members will deliver a report for all relevant Departments on what they need to do to improve their inclusivity and services for autistic people.

The committee has been meeting privately for the last number of weeks and is now due to have its first public meeting on Tuesday ,28th June ,in preparation for this work ,Committee members have received training from AsIAm , we met with a large and wide range of stakeholders and earlier this month ,I brought members of the Committee to visit a special School in the Dun Laoghaire -Ballyowen Meadows Special School in Loughlinstown.

Topics include but aren’t necessarily limited to issues with assessments of need, access to assessments ,treatments and interventions ,access to special classes ,promotion of inclusion ,adult diagnostics and employment supports.

I have been a TD since Feb 2020 and I have been deeply struck by the lack of services and the pace of delivery for autistic children. Although ,there has been considerable progress ,there is clearly more to do and significantly more to do on the provision of therapeutic services.

I meet and engage with many families affected by poor and inconsistent services almost weekly .This Committee and the body of work planned cannot come soon enough ,a special commendation must go to Senator Michael Carrigy who has campaigned for so long to get this Committee established and who has important family experience of the questions involved.

There is a disconnect between affected families ,carers and the HSE .This is an issue I aim to highlight continually throughout the Committees work.I am keen to stay linked in with parents, carers and families to amplify their difficulties with the HSE and will do everything I can do to help to get them resolved.

There are huge structural issues in the delivery of services that has deep effects on the lives of autistic people and their families .

Our Committee is an opportunity to tell those stories and to explain the effect of that experience -as well as underline the urgency of resolution at every level.

Should you wish to raise any issue or wish to brief the Committee on any relevant aspect of our work do not hesitate to contact me.

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill is Fine Gael TD for the Dun Laoghaire Constituency and is a member of the Oireachtas Autism Committee 


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