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Volume 404: debated on Thursday 8 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what respite care is available for young people suffering from autistic spectrum disorders aged (a) 15 years and (b) 16 years. [111409]

There are no specific respite care services for children with autistic spectrum disorders in that age group. They have access to respite services available for children with disabilities including residential provision, domiciliary care, host family and fostering services, holiday schemes and day care. In recognition of a need 10 increase the volume of respite care places, additional funding has been made available in the current financial year for this purpose. In addition, Health and Social Services Boards have been asked to bring forward costed proposals for enhancing autism services, particularly diagnostic and assessment services.