Call for quicker turnaround time for diagnosing autism

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Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
Speaking at a debate in the Assembly last week on the need for better support and early diagnosis for autism sufferers, South Down SDLP MLA Seán Rogers called for quicker turnaround time for diagnosing autism.
SDLP MLA Sean Rogers

SDLP MLA Sean Rogers

Rogers said, “It is estimated that 3,500 school children in Northern Ireland have autism and early intervention and diagnosis is essential to improve their developmental and educational outcomes. “Our capacity for dealing with special educational needs in our schools is not currently fit for purpose. In fact, there is under-provision in many of our rural schools. With limited finance from the learning disability budget and an increasing number of children with autism, 70% are waiting for over a year. “This is totally inappropriate and is failing the futures of many children with autism and those of their families.” Rogers also stressed the importance of working across departments. “This issue cannot be tackled by either Health or Education alone. A joint approach is necessary to drive down waiting lists and promote early intervention when educating and caring for the child with autism. He added, “Some work has been done with the Autism Act and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill currently making its way through the Assembly but there is a lot more which needs to be done to ensure we are supporting those with autism and investing in their futures.”
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