ROBIN Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member and his Party’s Westminster candidate in the area, has said “that the time has now come for the next Westminster Health Minister to provide significant funding to be used specifically for research into the causes of autism”.
Assemblyman Swann, who served as a past Chairman of the Stormont All Party Committee on Congenital Heart Conditions, added: “The response which I have had personally from people in the constituency has left me in no doubt that there is real concern in the community about the increase in the number of children being diagnosed with autism.
“One of the main problems is that there is an autistic spectrum, which means that people diagnosed with autism can have varying degrees of communications and social behavioural problems.
“One of the tragedies of autism is that there is as yet no known cure. This is why it is vital that funding be set aside to discover the causes of this lifelong condition.
“Our special schools in the Province, and especially Castle Tower in Ballymena, have gained a very credible reputation for the quality of their care for people with learning disabilities.
“Perhaps now it is also time to acknowledge the particular needs of our autistic children and young adults, and invest in special autism schools and long-term care homes. Every parent of an autistic child fears for the future when they are no longer around, or too old to care for their children.
“If elected, I will campaign to ensure the next Westminster Government takes an active role in providing care for the many autistic adults who are going to need help in the years to come; this would go a long way to alleviating some of these worries.
“However, the health authorities must not underestimate the concern in society that an increasing number of young people are being diagnosed with autism compared to a decade ago,” said Assemblyman Swann.
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