SDLP members meet health chief on autism services concerns

Michael Scott

Reporter:

Michael Scott

Email:

michael.scott@ulstergazette.co.uk

JUSTIN McNulty MLA and Cllr Mealla Campbell have raised the plight of local autism families with the Chief Executive of Southern Health and Social Care Trust this week.

Speaking after the meeting with Shane Devlin, the SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh explained, “Families of children with autism are constantly in a battle for services for their children.

“The importance of a daily routine cannot be underestimated and when that routine is interrupted, it can really set back progress made by educationalists and by healthcare professionals.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on their lives and the disruption and lack of routine is very difficult for the young people concerned and for their families.

“During our meeting we raised the concerns of many families who have been in contact with us in recent weeks. Schools and special schools have been closed; outreach services and supported employment opportunities have been paused and families are under real pressure.”

Cllr Campbell, who represents the Armagh DEA, added, “Families depend a lot on the suite of services provided by the Southern Trust and the Education Authority.

“We have received many reports about the lack of access to these services during lockdown and raised this concern with the Chief Executive in our meeting.

“We fully appreciate the difficulties faced by our health service and we have placed on record our support and admiration for everyone in every corner of our healthcare system.

“Mr Devlin has agreed to a further set of meetings on this particular issue.  We need to ensure the most vulnerable young people and their families have full access to the services they need at all times, especially in the middle of this pandemic.  We hope progress can be made in the days and weeks ahead.”

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