Autistic students 521.
(photo credit: Courtesy of ISRAEL21c)
The organization ALUT, the Israeli Society for Autistic Children, met earlier
this week with Prime Minister’s Office director-general Harel Locker, as well as
with representatives of the Treasury and Ministry of Social Affairs, to discuss
public services that have been significantly reduced due to budget
The meeting came two weeks after ALUT and hundreds of parents of
autistic children started a protest movement calling for the government to
allocate an appropriate budget for relevant services.
According to ALUT,
over 1,500 children are diagnosed with different levels of autism each year in
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 capacity.
Along with an
immediate budget allocation of NIS 60 million, ALUT has also been demanding the
advancement of a law that would make clear the rights of autistic children, as
well as the creation of a special committee dedicated to these issues that would
also help with interministerial coordination.
At the meeting with
government officials on Sunday, however, only the third request was
“The services that we are asking for exist. They are approved by
the government and are written black on white. They are just not implemented
because of budget,” Dr. Shmulik Miron, chairman of ALUT, told The Jerusalem Post
“These services are essential,” he explained. “You cannot
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
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.
We try to explain the needs to decision makers. We tell
them but they just don’t get it.”
He added that due to limited capacities
in the education services, over 60 autistic children had to stay home last year.
This year he sees the situation worsening.
“We are breaking the silence,”
he continued. “We are done being nice and quiet citizens. Now we are here and we
are starting to shout.”
Parents of autistic children are expected to
protest with ALUT once more in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem
on Friday morning.
“We will continue to protest until someone above will
understand,” Miron made clear. “We have nothing to lose. We are fighting for our
children, for our homes, not for salaries or work hours.”