Dáil Éireann - Volume 628 - 30 November, 2006

Written Answers. - Autism Incidence.

Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether autism rates have increased in the past 10 years; the rate of increase; if the perceived increase is due to better diagnosis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40940/06]

  Mr. T. O’Malley: There are currently no statistics available in Ireland either on a national or county basis on the level of diagnosed autism. The health services have, at regional level, in recent years been expanding the level of information available to them on the numbers and needs of persons with autism in their regions. While some persons with autism, who also have an intellectual disability, are included on the National Intellectual Disability Database, it does not contain information on this group as a whole. In addition while the database provides information in relation to the level of services being provided and current and future needs, it does not identify persons with specific disabilities such as autism or Down syndrome. Its principal role is as a planning and monitoring instrument.

This issue is now being examined in the context of the overall information requirements set out in Section 13 of Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 which imposes significant requirements on the [1731] HSE to keep and maintain detailed records in relation to the Act. Over the next twelve months as outlined in the Department’s Sectoral Plan, published in July 2006, the HSE will be reviewing the existing information management systems within the disability and mental health services, to identify what additional resources and infrastructure would be required to meet the obligations under Section 13 of Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005.

It is intended that the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), on establishment, will be requested to set standards in relation to the information and data requirements under the Disability Act.