Second reading for Autism at Stormont

  • 12-01-2011

Autism NI, Northern Ireland’s Autism Charity, is pleased to announce that the much anticipated Autism (NI) Bill received its second reading in the NI Assembly on Tuesday.  The Charity has been at the forefront of lobbying for equality based legislation for Autism Spectrum Disorder since 2001.  This long overdue piece of legislation will address the current inequalities being faced by those affected by Autism in relation to service provision throughout Northern Ireland.2nd reading of the Autism Bill

Many parents and family members filled the public gallery to see the next stage of the Autism (NI) Bill’s journey.  Claire Hughes, a parent of two children with Autism states, ‘It is imperative for parents and families living with Autism in Northern Ireland to have this legislation in place to safeguard the rights of our children who need access to a variety of essential services.’

Under the current Action Plan which was implemented by the Department of Health in 2008, families affected by Autism are reporting a postcode lottery in relation to obtaining essential services.  The introduction of Autism specific legislation would put a stop to this and make services equally available for all 20,000 people currently affected by Autism in Northern Ireland. 

Dominic Bradley MLA and Chair of APGA (All Party Group on Autism) comments ‘The Bill will also give Autism recognition as a social and communication developmental disorder under the Disability Discrimination Act and will help ensure that people with Autism have access, through an inter-departmental Autism strategy, to the services they require throughout their lives.  I believe that this legislation will be a major step forward for people with Autism who have long-suffered from a service deficit here in Northern Ireland.’

Arlene Cassidy, Chief Executive of Autism NI thanked APGA: ‘This is a landmark time for Autism in Northern Ireland.  I would like to congratulate APGA and PAL (Parents Autism Lobby) for all their efforts in introducing this Autism Bill into the Assembly.  It is very exciting that the Autism (NI) Bill will soon become a reality for the people of Northern Ireland and those people affected will finally have the rights they deserve.’

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