Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East, Anne Rabbite has called for the HSE and the Government to provide financial assistance to support more children with autism in getting the use of specially trained autism assistance dogs.
Deputy Rabbitte was commenting after she raised the issue with the Minister for Health and HSE by way of parliamentary question.
At present, the HSE provides no funding to the three main organisations that provide dogs to children with autism: Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland, Irish Therapy Dogs, Irish Dogs for the Disabled and My Canine Companion Autism Services.
The East Galway TD says that the Government must change tack and start to engage with them and their service users to increase number of dogs made available to children with autism.
“These dogs are an amazing support to children with autism and their families. They give the children stability and support and enable them go through their daily lives more free from worry and anxiety. Over the last number of months, I have been contacted by numerous parents of children with autism in the county who are at their wits ends waiting for these specially trained dogs to help and support their children.
“The charities are doing their level best with limited resources, but for them to expand their services, and to reach more children, they need the HSE to support it financially. However, many children are being denied a chance to develop and learn with an assistance dog simply because there is no funding. That is intolerable in my opinion.
“These organisations are crying out for funding. We must remember the children at the centre of this funding. The impact an assistance dog can make in their means is truly profound – a solution to this funding crisis must be found urgently,” concluded Deputy Rabbitte.