Autism support service welcomes boost

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 12/04/2014

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Increased government spending on support services for people with autism has been welcomed by support group Autism New Zealand's Taranaki branch.

Last week Health Minister Tony Ryall and Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia announced the Government is investing an extra $32 million over four years so more people with autism receive support to lead full lives.

The extra money would be welcomed in Taranaki as there were many families and schools who needed extra help, especially with training programmes, Autism Taranaki's information and support co ordinator Jean Sevicke-Jones said.

While it is hard to know exactly, there are more than 300 people in the region with autism.

A big need was to have more money put into education for teacher aids and more training, she said.

"Teachers have multiple young people with different needs in their classes."

The aim is to make the community throughout New Zealand more aware of autism and the impact it has on people.

"People need to know what they are struggling with."

In Taranaki, Autism New Zealand provides people and professionals with information and support, which includes running training and education programmes.

"We are running the Way to Play seminar here in New Plymouth on Wednesday, May 7," Sevicke-Jones said.

Ryall said everyone with autism spectrum disorder was now eligible to be assessed for support services.

This would include supported living, respite and carer support.

In New Zealand 2800 people with a sole diagnosis of autism currently received support services funded by the Ministry of Health. This extra funding would lift the number of people receiving support increase by around 20 per cent to 3400, Ryall said.

"The range of services currently available to people with autism, so they can live everyday lives in the community, will also be increasing."

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