With recent figures showing that autistic adults are nine times more likely to die from suicide and autistic children twenty times more likely to self-harm, the Charity is calling for urgent action to be taken to introduce a specialist autism mental health service in Northern Ireland. 

Autism NI CEO Kerry Boyd said: “Autism NI’s message is clear. Mental health services in Northern Ireland are currently failing autistic people, and many families are being left with little to no support. The recent figures are staggering, and it is imperative that there is an introduction of mandatory autism training for mental health professionals to deliver a specialist service. Training is key to ensure that appropriate adjustments are made for each autistic person, and to ensure that our mental health service is person-centred, adapting treatment and care at every point throughout a person’s journey.  Specialist mental health support for autistic people should be easily accessible within every Health Trust area throughout Northern Ireland.

Autism NI held an event in Stormont last Autumn to highlight this issue and the room was full of health professionals and MLAs showing their support for this campaign. Following this event, it is disappointing to see that no action has been taken by the NI Assembly despite our efforts in lobbying the Department of Health.

Time is crucial in saving lives, and we can’t wait any longer. It is vital that our autistic community receive the same access to mental health services as everyone else. I am urging members of the public to show their support and sign Autism NI’s petition so that we can work together and bring change to these services.”

Kathy, an autistic adult, said: “I felt completely abandoned when my mental health deteriorated. I was told there was no specialist support for autistic people which left me feeling scared and incredibly anxious for my future. Changes need to be made as I don’t want anyone else to feel like I did during those dark times. These changes should start with professionals being trained in autism and understanding how they can adapt their support strategies to help autistic people”.

As a local charity, Autism NI provides vital services for over 35,000 autistic people and their families throughout Northern Ireland, and campaigns for autism acceptance within society.

To sign Autism NI’s petition visit https://www.change.org/p/autism-ni-is-calling-for-a-specialist-autism-mental-health-service-for-northern-ireland/c

To find out more or for further information please call 028 9040 1729 or visit www.autismni.org