For over 30 years, Autism NI has been campaigning for the rights and access to support services for autistic people and their families in Northern Ireland.

Autistic Minds Matter

Mental health services in Northern Ireland are failing autistic people. With 35,000 autistic people living in Northern Ireland, Autism NI believes that there must be immediate action taken to introduce a specialist autism mental health service. Autistic people have higher levels of poor mental health compared to the general population. People on the spectrum are more vulnerable to mental health issues, particularly in adolescence and early adulthood.

Autism NI held an event on Monday 25th September 2023 in Stormont to highlight the issues in the current system and ask for action to be taken.

We are asking for

  1. The creation of a specialist autism mental health service.
  2. Mental health supports available for autistic people within a timely manner.
  3. Support strategies that work for autistic people.
  4. Mental health professionals trained in autism.

We are continuing to lobby for a specialist autism mental health service in Northern Ireland.

Sign our petition

Get involved and sign our petition for a specialist Autism Mental Health Service in Northern Ireland. We need your support to bring change.

Autism NI CEO addresses Stormont

Our CEO Kerry Boyd spoke recently at our Mental Health and Autism event. Listen to her full speech and the importance of introducing a specialist autism mental health service in Northern Ireland.

Implementing the Autism (Amendment) Act 2022

The Autism (Amendment) Act which Autism NI led the lobby for, was passed on Monday 7th March 2022 at the NI Assembly with unanimous cross-party support. The new Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Pam Cameron MLA, is the most comprehensive piece of single disability legislation within the United Kingdom. 

Autism NI is currently lobbying for the implementation of the Act, which will introduce the creation of an autism information service and a cross departmental autism training strategy.  There will also be a requirement for the Department of Health to make provision for a regionally consistent adult autism service and early intervention service throughout Northern Ireland.  

Read the Autism (Amendment) Act 2022

Lobbying to Health and Education Committee

Autism NI has been consistently lobbying our MLA’s on key issues. In 2021, Autism NI presented to the Health Committee and the Education Committee on mandatory teacher training and the Autism (Amendment) Bill.

As 1 in 20 children are being diagnosed with autism in Northern Ireland, it is critical that our children are given the support they are entitled to at school. That’s why we are lobbying for mandatory teacher training for all teaching staff in Northern Ireland. We want them to have the best possible start in life and the best educational outcomes. No child with autism should miss out on a full and supportive education.

Many of our teachers in Northern Ireland feel overwhelmed with the lack of training and resources they are given to teach autistic children. We are therefore calling for the Department of Education to introduce mandatory autism training for all teaching staff within mainstream schools.

During this campaign in September 2019, we also held a rally for our parents and supporters at Parliament Buildings, Stormont and handed over our petition which had over 10,000 signatures in support of this campaign. The campaign is still ongoing and in February 2020 the Education Minster agreed that teachers should be given sufficient training and has implemented online training options for teaching staff.  We will keep lobbying on this important matter to ensure that all autistic children get the same educational opportunities as their peers.

You can download the Hansard reports below.