Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen has backed the call made by Laois – Offaly Families for Autism (LOFFA) for additional resources to be made available to assist children with autism.

Deputy Cowen made the comments after securing a meeting for LOFFA with the Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath. The meeting will take place on Thursday and will allow LOFFA the opportunity to press their case for additional resources.

“A report published last July on school autism services highlights the need for more resources for the sector. The study, which was carried out for the National Council for Special Education, found that one in 65 students had an autism diagnosis. The report outlines the need to increase funding for autism and special needs services,” said Deputy Cowen.

“Organisations like Laois – Offaly Families for Autism are playing a huge role in providing support services to people with autism and special needs. They also play an important advocacy role, and they have highlighted how Laois – Offaly has the lowest resources allocation in the state when it comes to autism services. This cannot be allowed to continue.

“Currently there are long backlogs for autism assessment in the first instance, and even when a child is diagnosed, not all schools are equipped to cater for the complex needs of every student. This needs to be addressed without delay.

“The meeting I have secured for LOFFA with Minister McGrath will allow them to put their case for additional resources directly to the Government,” said Deputy Cowen.