Two-thirds of parents have had to wait at least two years to get an autism diagnosis for their child.
A new survey from the AsIAm charity has found that more half of parents are “very dissatisfied” with the HSE support services for their autistic children.
Meanwhile, 40% of parents believe their child regressed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
AsIAm CEO Adam Harris said the waiting lists were placing significant barriers in front of children’s development.
“Indeed, 66% of families surveyed had to wait more than two years to access an appropriate assessment for their autistic child,” he said.
“In addition, over two-thirds of people who were surveyed were not satisfied with the sorts of supports they were receiving from the HSE with extensive waiting lists to access basis services such as speech and language, occupations therapy or mental health supports.”
The survey of Irish families with autistic children found that almost four-fifths of parents were not in receipt of any support from either the Early Intervention or School Age-Going Teams.
Meanwhile, seven-in-ten felt broadly dissatisfied with the HSE’s support in helping them understand their child’s diagnosis.
Mr Harris said more investment is needed to help struggling families.
“When people are reaching out looking for support, the response form the State tends to be, ‘we can’t do that or we can’t do that for a huge period of time,’” he said.
“What is important to realise is, time is really important, so when these people are not receiving the supports they need often what is happening is families are really struggling and children are not developing the sorts of skills they need to manage in day to day life.”
He said the Government must now “comprehensively invest in and reform the supports available to autistic children to ensure every child receives the right support at the right time.”