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(Ireland) 20K waiting for ASD assessment; thousands suffering lack of services

June 25, 2023, Independent: Cara (12) ‘up for fight’ at new top-level meetings to discuss autism rights

AUTISM services campaigner Cara Darmody is preparing for one of the “biggest weeks” of her young life, ahead of meetings with the Taoiseach and the head of the HSE.

The sixth-class pupil is “ready to fight” for others when she faces HSE chief Bernard Gloster next Tuesday and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar the following day, she told the Irish Independent.

The 12-year-old, from Ardfinnan in Co Tipperary, has two autistic brothers, Neil (10) and John (5), who are both non-verbal.

She has been a constant advocate for them as well as the thousands of others suffering due to a lack of services.

As always, Cara insists the meetings are “not about me” and said she will be “fighting tooth and nail for those amazing children that have been left to rot on HSE waiting lists”.

Cara said the “showdown” with the Taoiseach “will be the “biggest since Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman in 1974”.

“I’m going to keep campaigning for these people until I get change because people like my brothers cannot fight back for themselves,” she said.

In May, Cara was in Dáil Éireann to hear Disability Minister Anne Rabbitte indicate that the Government would consider reimbursing parents who are forced to use private providers for assessments of needs. Minister Rabbitte said she would make the commitment by August, if certain targets are not met.

Twelve-year-old Cara Darmody campaigns for autism and carers rights at the Dáil

At the time, Cara said she was pleased that ministers were “finally starting to smell the roses” and vowed to keep coming back until “concrete change” is implemented. The soon to be secondary school pupil, has now reaffirmed this commitment saying: “It’s all fine talking the talk, but now let’s see if Leo is willing to walk the walk.”

Cara brings up “three main issues” every time she meets someone in a position of power.

“Immediate financial relief for parents and people paying for assessments and therapies, the lack of accountability in the HSE management and to get a full review of carer’s allowance,” she said….

As part of her mission to draw attention to the 20,000 people waiting for autism assessments in Ireland, Cara sat both Leaving Cert maths papers in recent weeks.


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