Roy Beggs MLA, Ulster Unionist Health spokesman has highlighted that the growing numbers of young people that have been diagnosed as having Special Educational Needs related to Autism, requires a response by the Department of Education as a result of the growing need for guidance and support.
Roy Beggs MLA said, “There has been a steady increase in the numbers of young people with Special Education Needs related to their Autism diagnosis over the past decade with a significant increase during 2017/18. I would call on the Department of Education to ensure that there is a suitable range of guidance for schools and that accommodation can be made for pupils so that the range of pupils on the Autistic spectrum can benefit from education and be better prepared for future life.”
The recently published report on “The Prevalence of Autism in School Age Children in NI 2018” has highlighted that the rate of autism in males has increased from 1.9% to 4.5%, whilst that in females has increased from 0.4% to 1.2%. There has been a higher level of diagnosis in Belfast, Northern and South Eastern HSC Trust areas. Higher levels have also been identified in urban and deprived areas.
Roy Beggs MLA said, “The 17% increase in Autistic pupils in the SEN bands 1 to 5 during 2017/18, will require the Department of Education and Schools to reassess how they can best adjust and accommodate to meet the need of this growing group with Special Educational Needs.”