Dozens of parents to children suffering from autism rallied Sunday across from the government plaza in protest of shrinking government funding. The Israeli Society for Autistic led the protest.
"Raising a child with autism is a daily struggle for survival compounded by an endless struggle with the authorities," Said Hagai Shagrir (48) whose son, 17-years-old Eylon, is classified as low-functioning autistic.
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The protestors called for legislation that will regulate the rights of children with autism in addition to supplement fund of NIS 60 million (roughly $16 million). The parents also called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to interfere and solve the crisis.
Parents protesting in Jerusalem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The protest erupted due to unprecedented increase in the number of kids diagnosed as suffering from autism over the past few years. According to the data published by the Social Affairs Ministry, one out of 100 babies born in Israel suffers from autism.
Since 2000 the number of autistic children registered with the ministry has multiplied by 50, from 156 in 2000 to 7,899 in 2012, while the State budget increased by only 9.5 times.
The protesters carried signs calling the government to take immediate action, reading "Steinitz - leaver your bubble" and "We are not asking for favors" and "Autistics never leave the nest."
The Israeli Society for Autistic Children said the latest data "Means creating a huge gap in the range and quality of services and care that is provided to the child and his family. There is shortage of day- care facilities for autistic toddlers, schools, hostels and assisting personal etc."
Knesset Member Ilan Ghilon (Meretz) who heads the Knesset Lobby for the Handicapped called on on Social Affairs Minister Moshe Kahlon to meet with the parents: "Do not turn them away; you have the power to make a meaningful difference before you leave office."
In his letter to Kahlon, Gilon said "Families to autistic children have to cope with deficient state treatment and are literally abandoned, having to carry the heavy financial toll alone. You must act immediately to match the funds necessary and provide additional essential facilities."
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