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Improvements to Autism Services – World Autism Day, 2 April 2012


A number of events will be held across Northern Ireland to celebrate World Autism Day on Monday, 2 April.

Many improvements to autism services have recently been made by the Regional Autistic Spectrum Disorder Network, RASDN. This is an umbrella body managed by the Health and Social Care Board involving users of autism services, parents and carers, the voluntary and community sector, all five Health and Social Care Trusts, the Public Health Agency and Education and Library Boards.

In the past year, there has been a significant improvement in managing autism assessments. Over 1000 referrals are made each year and getting an initial assessment quickly has been welcomed by parents.

Dr Stephen Bergin, Chair of RASDN said; “The 13 week target for initial assessment is now being consistently met each month. This is a very positive development. In addition, access to services and the standard of services are now the same no matter where you live in Northern Ireland.”

“Other improvements have been made too. Following on from the success of the regional care pathway for children and young people, RASDN is currently working on a new pathway for adult services. This will allow for a consistent approach to assessment, diagnosis and intervention for adults with autism.”

“Specialist Autism Teams and Autism Co-ordinators are now in place in every Health and Social Care Trust. New literature has been produced by users of services, parents and carers. “Autism: A Guide for Families” provides information about all aspects of autism and local service and is now being used by health and education professionals as well as across the voluntary sector. A similar Guide for adults will be developed over Spring/Summer 2012.”

Dr Bergin continued; “A Regional Reference Group has been working alongside RASDN representing parents, carers, service users, the voluntary and community sector. This Group has been directly involved in planning and guiding RASDN’s decisions to improve autism services.”

“Over the coming months the existing Group will be changed to reflect the needs of locally based autism services. New localised groups will be introduced and we are calling on parents, carers and users of services with an interest in improving autism services to get involved. It is vital that they continue to provide their expert advice and guidance in shaping services.”

For further information about the Local Reference Groups or any other autism issues please get in touch with Martina McCafferty, Service Improvement Project Manager (Western Office) on Tel: (028) 7186 0086 or martina.mccafferty@hscni.net