Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw has said the Autism Bill has “positive potential”, allowing outdated labels to be stripped away and addressing failings in the system in their place.
The Alliance Party’s Health Spokesperson was speaking after the bill progressed to the next stage, adding it was long past time the lack of support and lack of financial assistance for the sector was addressed.
She said: “Autism should absolutely not be presented as some form of devastating diagnosis. On the contrary, in most cases at least, this is as much about experiencing the joy of difference – and that should form the basis of how we progress real change here in Northern Ireland.
“It’s clear there are challenges ahead, but by allow this bill to progress we are committing to challenging the current norm and achieving better for all who need it. One of the biggest challenges I hear is simply ensuring awareness of connections and assistance which are out there.
“It is essential that people with autism and their family members – perhaps most notably siblings – can build connections and share experiences from the very moment autism is recognised and diagnosed.
“Ultimately, I see the objective of the Bill as moving autism away from being something dealt with under Health, and towards something which is accepted as a difference to be respected, accepted and included across all public services and indeed across society.”