SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H. Durkan, has said the soar in Autism diagnosis is testament to increased public awareness and must be welcomed.
However, he deemed the inadequate resources and lack of available support post-diagnosis, a huge failure in workforce planning.
Mr. Durkan said: “The reported spike in child Autism diagnoses here is reflective of an increased awareness, thanks to public health campaigns led by local autism groups.
“It is lamentable, however, that adequate care pathways both before and after diagnosis are yet to be established- despite knowledge of the issues laid out in ‘The Broken Promises Report’ by Autism NI prior to the Executive’s collapse. As a result, an improved framework could not be implemented leaving access to autism services in a state of inertia.
“Given that access to autism support and services were already under immense pressures, the exponential increase in demand means the needs of many children and their families will not be met. This will undoubtedly impact on their ability to do things that most people take for granted, particularly in regard to education, making an already frustrating and lengthy process more stressful.”
He added: “Sadly the potential of the ‘Autism Act NI’ bill proposed by my former party colleague Dominic Bradley, to transform people’s lives has been compromised not only by a lack of financial support but a lack of ministerial decision-making.“