Sinn Féin to put forward motion in Dáil for autism strategy

Bullying, unemployment and mental health difficulties are some of the main difficulties facing people who are autistic.

The issues are being highlighted as part of World Autism Day.

Sinn Féin will today put forward a motion in the Dáil calling for the development of an autism empowerment strategy in Ireland.

Advocacy group, AsIAm, is one of the groups that has worked on the proposal.

"On World Autism Day, we are urging the Government to support Sinn Fein’s private members motion to be debated in the Dáil tonight on the creation of an all-party Oireachtas committee to deliver an autism strategy within six months, said AsIAm CEO Adam Harris.

"Furthermore, we are calling on Government to urgently put in place the supports required to enable autistic people to access the workplace and live happy lives in their local communities – this requires investment in further and higher education supports, access to keyworkers for autistic adults and concerted efforts to educate frontline education, health and social service officials about autism."

Mr Harris says that despite 86% of autistic children now attending mainstream school, there are still problems to be addressed.

"“While some autistic children currently benefit from special schools, there is a growing trend towards educating autistic children in mainstream schools, sometimes in special classes within those schools.

However there is still a significant minority of people who do not believe mainstream schools are responsible for supporting autistic students.

"This requires further work in light of Ireland’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities."

Research by AsIAm shows that attitudes towards autistic people are quite positive.

Younger people are more likely to believe they have a good understanding, and they are also more likely to be aware of having an autistic person among their friends.

25% of people say there is an autistic person among their friends, but this rises to 33% within the 18-25 age group.

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