North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey has joined political representatives from across Northern Ireland is support of families with autism.
Speaking after sponsoring the launch of the report A* for Autism published by the National Autistic Society NI
Mr Storey said:
“It is very clear that as politicians debate the reforms to the Special Educational Needs (SEN) system that the needs of children with autism ought to be consider much more comprehensively.
“I know from the meetings and contact I have had with parents in North Antrim that families can find themselves in a situation where they have had a statement issued only to find that the reality f delivery on the ground falls short of what they had a right to expect.
“This is something that is experienced right across Northern Ireland.
“Research carried out by the National Autistic Society NI found that over half of children with autism wait over a year for appropriate educational support and almost one in three parents feel the education their child receives is not adequate to their needs.
“The research also highlighted the fact that over 80% of parents who took part indicated their belief that a lack of support had harmed their children’s social and communication skills, while a further 65% said a lack of support had affected their child’s mental health.
“I was honoured to be able to sponsor the launch of this very important piece of research.
“Northern Ireland needs to have education provision that understands autism. Parents shouldn’t be left to undergo a daily battle to secure their child’s fundamental right to an education.
“Northern Ireland needs to develop a coherent strategy for a range of educational provision for children with autism in Northern Ireland, in particular autism specific specialist provision.
“It is vital that any revision of the Special Educational Needs system retains clear and enforceable rights for children and their parents.”