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19 November 2008

PN HSSPS 01/08/09


A holistic autism plan put in place by the Welsh Assembly will be on the agenda as the Health Committee visits Cardiff on Thursday 20 November.

The Committee, which is on a fact finding visit, will be looking at the way that services for children and adults are delivered and whether any lessons can be applied to services in Northern Ireland.

Deputy Chairperson of the Health Committee, Michelle O’Neill said, “The Committee is examining a proposed Autism Action Plan published recently for consultation by the Department.

“We recently heard views on the proposals from Autism NI and the National Autistic Society and I believe there is also much we can learn from the holistic approach adopted in Wales. In addition to health and social care, services also include education, higher and further education, employment and accommodation services.”


Notes to editors

Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition which affects an individual in varying degrees of severity with regard to imagination, communication and social relationships. There is no known cure but early intervention, specialist education and appropriate support can help those with autism to live as independently as possible.

It is estimated that autism affects around 4,000 children and 17,000 adults in Northern Ireland.

As well as meeting with Gwenda Thomas, the Deputy Minister with responsibility for autism and Government officials, the Committee will meet with some of those directly involved in delivering autism services throughout Wales. The Committee will meet its counterpart, the Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee to discuss issues of common interest.

Committee Membership:
Mrs Iris Robinson MP (DUP) (Chairperson); Ms Michelle O’Neill (SF) (Deputy Chairperson); Mr Thomas Buchanan (DUP); Dr Kieran Deeny (IHC); Mr Alex Easton (DUP); Mr Tommy Gallagher (SDLP); Mr Sam Gardiner (UUP); Mrs Carmel Hanna (SDLP); Mr John McCallister (UUP); Ms Claire McGill (SF); Ms Sue Ramsey (SF)

Media Enquiries to:
Debra Savage, Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office, Room B2, Parliament Buildings, Belfast BT4 3XX.
Tel No: 02890-521405. Mobile. 07920864221. Fax: 02890 521961.
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