Irish Autism Action, support, information and advice
Susan Dunne worked tirelessly for people with disabilities and children with autism in particular. She was the Chairwoman of the North Kerry branch of Irish Autism Action (IAA). Everyone here at IAA will miss her terribly and our hearts go out to all those close to her.
In the tragic situation for the family of the late Susan Dunne, we want to reassure our members that Irish Autism Action has offered any assistance that may be needed. We remain in contact with all relevant parties. Due to the circumstances, Irish Autism Action will not comment on the details of that support.
Government must Protect Disability Budget in HSE Service Plan
- better management of disability funding urgently needed
Three of the largest disabilities organisations representing families of people with a disability have written to the Minister for Health James Reilly TD and asked him to protect the disability budget in the upcoming HSE service plan.
Inclusion Ireland, Irish Autism Action and Down Syndrome Ireland, who represent over 150,000 people and advocate for the rights of people with an intellectual disability and/or autism, say there is a crisis in service provision in some parts of the country.
Expressing concern that any further cuts will push some families into crisis they have called on the Minister to seek new investment to meet waiting lists and emergency cases. The three bodies outlined to Minister Reilly the present situation facing many families:
· 34,617 people are waiting on speech and language therapy: 6,500 have been waiting for longer than one year;
· 15,830 people are waiting for assessment by an occupational therapist, with 2,500 waiting in excess of one year. This includes 1,900 children;
· Under the Disability Act children under six are entitled to have their needs assessed within six months. Last year 763 children were not assessed within six months - of these, 65% were waiting more than nine months.
· Respite has been cut in some areas of the country or families have been asked to pay for this vital service. HSE, Dublin Mid-Leinster provided 45,000 fewer respite nights than their target last year;
· Residential services have been cut. One Dublin based service provider has a waiting list of 330 people. Of this number 52 are families in difficulty, while 264 people on the waiting list are living with a parent carer who is aged over 70;
· 10,304 day places will require changes or enhancements over the next five years;
Inclusion Ireland CEO Paddy Connolly says:
“The Government will maintain that some €1.4 billion is presently spent in the disability area but it is clearly not reaching young children who need therapy inputs. Better management of the disability budget is urgently needed to ensure that families with young children receive the supports they need. We are clearly failing many thousands of children if we cannot equip them, through speech and language therapy, with the basic skills to communicate”.
Irish Autism Action CEO Kevin Whelan says:
“Parents all around the country are fundraising so they can pay privately for autism supports for their children. Many families have given up any hope of getting a service from the public health system. The Government must guarantee that we maintain a threshold of decency and support children with a disability and their families”.
Down Syndrome Ireland CEO Pat Clarke says:
“We are aware of over 100 children with Down syndrome who have had their discretionary medical cards withdrawn. This is having a massive impact on these families and there is real fear that this number will rise as a result of the budget commitment to find further savings through reduced medical card spending”.
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