Northern Ireland

UUP MLA Jo-Anne Dobson in Stormont autism call

Brain showing effect of autism Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Individuals with autism have less activity in the amygdala (shown in red), which plays a key role in processing emotions

Health and education departments need to take a more joined-up approach to autism, UUP MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has said.

She was speaking on the United Nations' World Autism Awareness Day.

Ms Dobson said it was "an opportunity for society to pause and reflect on the challenges faced by those individuals and families affected".

"As numbers continue to rise, it is clear that we are facing a major problem," she said.

"Locally it is imperative that the assembly redoubles its efforts to bring service provision for people on the autism spectrum up to standard.

"In order to succeed we need a redoubling of efforts from ministers and officials across several departments, particularly health and education, working in concert with parents and teachers."

Autism is a developmental disorder that can cause problems with social interaction, language skills and physical behaviour.

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