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Early diagnosis is key to the child’s development for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder – Cllr. Mark Ward

14 November, 2016

Sinn Féin Councillor Mark Ward had a motion passed at the South Dublin County Council meeting asking for the Minister for Health Simon Harris to put all the resources necessary into eliminating the waiting list for children Autism Spectrum Disorder for an assessment of needs.

Cllr Ward said:

“For children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, early diagnosis is key to the child’s development. Early diagnosis will allow children to access the services that they require.

“An independent assessment of needs is required in order to get a child diagnosed. This is an assessment of the full range of the child’s needs associated with his or her disability. After this parents will receive an assessment report detailing their child’s health and educational needs and the services required to meet those needs.

“An assessment of needs is broken up into three parts, Speech and language, Occupational Therapy, and Psychology assessments. Parents have informed me they are waiting up to nine months for Speech and language and Occupational Therapy assessments. It can take up to a further two years for parents to receive a diagnosis and valuable time is lost for their children.

“Parents have been getting letters back from the Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAHMS) directing them to complain regarding the length of time they have to wait for an assessment of needs. The HSE is basically advising parents to complain as they know that they cannot provide the services that are expected. CAHMS is based in Cherry Orchard Hospital. This is a scandal of the highest order. This is an acknowledgement of the frustrations that the professionals who are intrusted to provide the assessment of needs feel about the waiting times.

“Speaking with members of the Clondalkin Autism Mammies, they disclosed that they receive referrals from the public health nurse and also CAHMS because the HSE haven’t got the facilities to provide supports. Clondalkin Autism Mammies is a voluntary support group that evolved because their needs were not being met.

“One area that this group gave asked me to highlight is that parents are now being directed to complete parenting courses prior to their children completing the assessment of needs. It is the group’s opinion that this is a delaying tactic and another barrier that delays their children’s diagnosis.

“These children have rights. It has been proven that early accurate diagnosis in parallel with early interventions will increases the child's development. I am calling on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to put all the resources necessary and to eliminate the waiting times for these children so that they can avail of all the services that they need.” 

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