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Autism (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022

Background and Policy Objectives

3.The Autism Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (“The 2011 Act”) aimed to enhance the provision of services to, and support for, people with conditions which are on the autistic spectrum. This was to be achieved by amending the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to ensure autism spectrum conditions were unambiguously considered disabilities and by requiring the preparation and implementation of an Autism Strategy. The Member gathered widespread commentary and evidence that there were emerging gaps in the planning for, and provisions in, the autism strategy. The Member is committed to strengthening the impact of the autism strategy.

4.The Autism (Amendment) Bill has three policy objectives:


To enhance the autism strategy by strengthening the consultation process and the collection of data.


To provide information on autism training for staff of public bodies; to set out details of an autism early intervention service; details of a new autism information service; and specific information on the needs of adults with autism. The Bill also seeks to amend the methodology used in preparation of the autism strategy to reflect best international practice. The strategy must recognise the individualised needs of autistic people and contain measurable targets to determine success. The Minister of Health must prepare an annual report setting out information on the funding of autism.


To require the appointment of an independent autism reviewer to review the Department of Health’s (“the Department”) functions in relation to autism and to produce an annual report to be laid before the Assembly.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


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