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World Autism Day 2010


To mark ‘World Autism Day’ on Friday 2 April, the Regional Autism Spectrum Disorder Network (Regional ASD Network) is highlighting its plans to improve autism services for children and adults in Northern Ireland.

This Network was set up by the Health and Social Care Board to implement the Autism Action Plan published by Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey last autumn and already much progress has been made.

It is made up of professional staff, carers and statutory and voluntary organisations, all of whom are looking at what changes are necessary including improvements to children and adult services, training, information and waiting times within Northern Ireland.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: “Autism is a complex and lifelong disability which is sometimes not easy to identify.

“I am committed to improving the treatment and care of those who are affected by autism and, for that reason, I was able to secure an additional £2.02million for autism services.

“Last autumn we published a comprehensive Autism Action Plan and that is now being implemented. However, in order for the improvements set out in that plan to be effective and worthwhile, it is imperative that all people affected by autism – either personally or professionally – work together.”

Dr Stephen Bergin, Public Health Agency, Chair of the Network said;

“I am delighted that the Minister has committed £2.02 million to take the work of the Network forward and I am confident that in working together, we can deliver a much improved service.”

Demonstrating the Network’s commitment to partnership working, a Reference Group was recently launched under the Chairmanship of Lord Maginnis of Drumglass. Carers, service users, and voluntary organisations will now share their valuable knowledge and experience to influence those taking decisions in planning autism services.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to other people. Early and effective treatment during childhood is essential in terms of the opportunity for significant improvement and relative independence over the longer term.

It is estimated that around 16,000 people are affected by autism in Northern Ireland with approximately 200 new cases identified every year.

For further information about the Network, please get in touch with Roger Kennedy on Tel 028 253 1204 or email roger.kennedy@hscni.net