Parents of autistic children in counties Laois and Offaly have been holding a protest outside the office of the Health Services Executive - Midland Region in Tullamore, Co Offaly, over what they claim is a lack of proper education and support services. 

The parents claim that in the Midland Health Board region there are up to 200 children on the autistic spectrum indicating a need for between 20 and 25 speech and language therapists, yet the HSE has only four therapists practising. 

The Chairman of the Laois/Offaly Parents for Autism group, Gerry McLoughlin, said that one of the parents protesting this morning has been waiting for 18 months for a diagnosis to be carried out on her child's condition. 

The family say the Midland Health Board had sought funding to get additional therapists but the Department of Health has not provided the finances.