|Parents demonstrate for autistic children, Dec. 31, 2012.(Photo by: Courtesy ALUT)|
Gov't sets up c'tee on autistic kids after protests
By HERB KEINON AND DANIELLE ZIRI
Cabinet establishes inter-ministerial committee to draw up arrangements for measures on autistic children.
The cabinet established an inter-ministerial committee on Sunday to draw up
arrangements for measures on autistic children, following weeks of protests by
parents demanding the government enact legislation to protect the rights of
children with special needs.
The parents protested that their children
lack access to basic education and later in life will encounter difficulties
finding adequate employment.
The organization ALUT – The Israeli Society
for Autistic Children, which has been organizing the movement, met last week
with Prime Minister’s Office director-general Harel Locker as well as
representatives of the Treasury and the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, to
discuss the issue and lay down their demands.
The establishment of the
special committee was one of the three requests presented by ALUT along with an
immediate budget allocation of NIS 60 million and the advancement of a law that
would clarify the rights of autistic children.
A statement from the Prime
Minister’s Office said the committee was appointed because of a significant
increase in the number of children being diagnosed with autism.
committee is charged with formulating recommendations to define and meet the
needs of individuals with autism and their families, and will explore budgeting,
ways to increase government efficiency in the field and the possibility of
enacting legislation on the issue.
“My heart goes out to individuals with
autism and their families, and the government is committed to finding
appropriate answers for their needs,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at
“Appointing this team is a very welcome and important step,
and a humane step, that is designed to assist the unique needs of this
According to ALUT, one out of 100 children in Israel is
diagnosed with autism.
Government services for these children and their
families, such as specialized schools, kindergartens and after-school programs,
are functioning in the country.
However, with recent budget cuts, fewer
children have access to these programs, which are filled to
“These services are essential,” ALUT chairman
Dr. Shmulik Miron told The Jerusalem Post last week.
leave an autistic kid alone to read a book – they need to constantly be watched
over, to make sure they are not hurting themselves. They can’t go to a regular
school,” he said.
Miron, father to an autistic teenager, said his group
is merely asking that existing services be fully used.
“We are not asking
for luxury,” he explained. “We are not asking for the butter, just for the
bread, for the basics.
The organization of parents released a statement
on Sunday afternoon that said, “We will closely monitor developments, and as
long as things progress positively for the advancement of our goals, we will
cooperate with the activity of the inter-ministerial team.”
representative from the Welfare and Social Services Ministry will chair the
committee, which will also be composed of members from the Prime Minister’s
Office; the Education, Health and Finance ministries; and the National Insurance
The team will ultimately submit its recommendations to Locker.