Improving Services for People with Autism


Two new initiatives were recently launched by the Health and Social Care Board's Regional Autistic Spectrum Disorder Network (RASDN) to improve information and services for parents, carers and users of autism services.

The first initiative ‘Six Steps of Autism Care: for Children and Young People in Northern Ireland’ sets out a pathway that now means that no matter where you live in Northern Ireland, there will be a consistent approach to autism assessment, diagnosis and intervention for children.

The second initiative ‘Autism: A Guide for Families’, is a series of leaflets providing valuable information on a range of issues following a diagnosis of autism in a child or young person.


Emma McCandless-Bell, parent and carer of two children with ASD spoke at the launch, “Having a Guide is hugely important. The information has come from the experts – the parents. It gives clear advice and having this knowledge and information will help empower parents and ensure that the needs of children and parents are met.”

RASDN was set up by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in 2009 to improve outcomes for children, young people and adults with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families.

Services have improved significantly over the last two years and work is in progress to make further developments in the near future. Over the last three years additional funding has been invested in specialist autism services with a further £1.6m per year recurrent investment provided to Trusts between 2008-2011. This includes £100,000 to take forward much needed adult autism diagnostic services.

There are now specialist ASD Teams, along with a lead ASD coordinator, in place in each Trust. These coordinators are taking forward a programme to improve ASD services in each Trust.