Armstrong calls for review of autism assessments

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has called for a review of the assessment process for adults with autism.

With World Autism Awareness Week taking place until April 2, Strangford MLA Ms Armstrong said the time was right for clarity from the Department for Communities in particular, regarding its assessment process for personal independence payments (PIPs) for adults with autism.

“I have recently dealt with a number of cases for my constituents which have brought this issue to the fore,” she said.

“It is clear PIPs assessors have not received appropriate training or have any understanding of autism. In a number of cases, carers are being prevented from helping young adults respond during interviews. In other situations, carers who have been appointed or who are already registered legal guardians are being ignored, leaving the young adult with autism unable to respond to the complex questions.

“In other circumstances, PIPs has been refused because the assessor has not fully understood autism or how people with autism can mask the condition in order to comply with social conventions.

“We need an Executive up and running so the Department for Communities can urgently review its assessment process, train its assessors and reveal how many applications have been refused due to the failure of assessors to understand the disability.”

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