Following the publication of an Autism Spectrum Disorder Bill in 2017, Minister Harris asked the HSE to prepare a report detailing models of good practice across the Health Service. The HSE Report was published in December 2018 by the Minister alongside a Department of Health research paper on the prevalence of Autism in Ireland. The Minister then instructed the HSE to proceed with the establishment of a Programme Board who will further the implementation of the recommendations of the Review.
The HSE 2019 National Service Plan reflects this commitment and an Autism Plan is to be published later this year.
A national working group has been established focused on the implementation of the Plan. This builds on the substantial work already commenced in relation to improving Autism services, and the assessment of need process in particular.
Key priorities for the group include the Establishment of a Programme Board, Programme of Awareness Raising and Engagement and Guidance to Clinicians and Service Development. The Programme Board has been established and are making progress on the other key priorities mentioned.
The multi service needs of people with Autism are broader than the remit of the Department of Health and span a number of Government Departments. The Department of Justice and Equality has responsibility for providing a focal point for the promotion and co-ordination of disability policy, including the development of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy. In this context, the Department of Justice oversees the implementation of the Strategy and the accompanying Programme of Additional Actions on Autism.
The Government and the Minister for Health are committed to supporting all people with disabilities in maximising their individual potential. The continuous improvement of services for all children with additional need including those with Autism is particularly important to achieve this Government priority.