Minister of State for Disabilities, Anne Rabbitte, has welcomed the launch of a telephone information line for people with autism. This initiative is being operated by AsIAm and is part-funded by the HSE.
With HSE support, AsIAm propose to operate the Information Line for 4 hours per day, 5 days per week. The aim of the service over a 3-year period is to develop the range of information resources, seminars and programmatic activity of AsIAm so that callers will receive the information and the community-based support they need, in so far as possible, without the need for external referral.
Minister Rabbitte said, “the information line is an invaluable resource which is both much needed and much welcomed for people with autism, their families, and their friends. Indeed, it will be beneficial in enabling the wider population to understand the needs of autistic people in today’s world.”
“In identifying the need for the information line, almost 70% of autistic adults surveyed by AsIAM reported that the COVID-19 pandemic had severely impacted upon their mental health and wellbeing. The development of this channel will, I hope, alleviate some of these issues by providing evidence-based information and a ‘port of call’ for individuals and families working through specific issues or challenges.”
The Minister continued, “with the establishment of the phone line, calls will be responded to by either a clinician or an appropriately qualified autistic advisor, to ensure appropriate responses and supports to meet the needs and concerns of the range of callers. This will assist in matters as diverse as how to go about obtaining a diagnosis, to socialising, to employment related issues. The service should help to alleviate the need for autistic people and their families to go through a myriad of websites or phone calls to get an answer to a simple query.”
Bernard O’Regan, HSE Assistant National Director, Disability Operations said, “I’m delighted that the HSE has partnered with AsIAm on this Information Line. This is one of a range of initiatives we are supporting to improve the experiences of autistic people, their families, and staff. Later this year we will publish a directory of services on hse.ie that is being developed in partnership with the autistic community as part of the Autism Programme.”
Minister Rabbitte added, “I am delighted that this phone line is available as an additional support, to provide a bespoke and dedicated channel of information for people with autism, their families and friends. I wish the AsIAm team every success with this new facility.”
Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm stated, “we are so proud to have developed this new Information Line Service to support our community at a critical time. Autistic people simply want the same chance to go to school, access healthcare services, gain employment and to be accepted in the community for who we are. Too often autistic people and their families do not have timely access to information and support or face structural barriers to inclusion which leave families unsure of where to turn to.”
“We see the Information Line providing a space where community members are met where they are at, listened to and receive useful guidance for specific challenges that they may face. The Information Line is by no means a substitute for timely, individualised support but will provide a concrete, practical support at a time when queries to our organisation have risen by over 300% and many people are waiting lengthy periods to access the professional support they so need and deserve.”