Appeal to Irish government to support European Union autism project|
DUBLIN, Ireland: The Irish Member of the European Parliament, Kathy Sinnott, has called on the Irish government to support a European Union project that she believes will provide information on the extent of autism in the State.
Sinnott said that a study reported at the weekend had estimated that one in 58 children in Britain had autism and that this demanded "urgent action." She said she believed an "autism epidemic" was affecting similar numbers in Ireland.
"Every Health Service Executive and school area in the country is struggling to cope with the increasing numbers of children with autism and autistic spectrum disorders entering their systems," Sinnott said.
The MEP began a study earlier this year, which will be funded by the European Commission, to help identify and count the number of people with autism in EU member states.
The European Autism Information System project (EAIS), led by Dr Alvaro Ramírez of Hope Project from Killaloe, Co Clare, is co-ordinating the work of experts in Britain, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Denmark and the Czech Republic.
"When this information system is finalised, early next year, we will be able to begin to collect accurate data on autism and find out the truth of what is happening to children in Ireland and in Europe" said Sinnott, who is chair of the Hope Project.
Speaking at the announcement of The Lion in the Room, a new documentary on the rise of autism in Ireland, she called on Irish government support for children and adults with autism and for the EAIS project. She said the project would inform the government on the situation of autism in Ireland.
"Autism is a preventable and a treatable condition," said Sinnott. "However, in Ireland, few children receive the early educational, therapeutic and health intervention they need to recover. Instead children sit on waiting lists while their condition worsens, and they become disabled for life."
Campaigners for services for children with autism handed a petition of 15,000 signatures to the Irish Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin, in May.
(Source; The Irish Times, July 10, 2007)