Responding to the unacceptable comments on autism by a senator, Cllr. Carly Bailey, parent of a son with autismand general election candidate in Dublin South West, said: “Words matters. Autism is not an illness. Autistic people do not suffer from autism. What they do suffer from is an incredible lack of understanding of what autism is, the different ways it can make day to day living in our very loud and bright world more challenging and the lack of state services that will properly support people with disabilities.

“It is so important that stereotypes around autism and other disabilities are challenged. While I am glad that Senator Noone has retracted her comments, her words have hurt a great many people on the autism spectrum and their families who know what potential their loved ones have. “I am a parent of a child who feels too much, which is why he can find daily life more difficult. I am also a parent of a child who has been utterly failed by the state in terms of access to timely diagnosis and services that would help my son to realise his talents and gifts. I am a parent of a child who is coping in school rather than flourishing due to overcrowded class sizes, a significant lack of special education teachers and SNAs. The failure to open ASD units in all schools only adds to this and is a serious issue in Dublin South West and across the country.

“Resourcing our disability services and schools adequately and ensuring that every child with additional needs receives the support they deserve is not something we should have to continuously fight for.” “The Social Democrats commit to developing and implementing a strategy that radically improves the services available to adults and children with autism and their families, including by the full implementation Sláintecare.