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(Ireland) 9,000 children waiting for ASD assessment

April 19, 2024, Irish Mirror:  Desperate mother blasts HSE as son misses out on school place due to assessment delays

A desperate mother says her little boy has missed out on starting school later this year because of a delay by the HSE in getting him assessed for autism.

The HSE has confirmed that almost 9,000 children are awaiting an assessment of needs nationwide.

Anna Houlihan applied, through her GP, for an assessment of needs for her four-year-old son, Arthur, last September and was told by the HSE that he would be seen by January.

However, Arthur is still waiting and Anna says she can't get any answers from the HSE. She lodged a complaint with them on February 15 and has been told that her grievance still hasn't been reviewed.

The delay means that Arthur has missed out on starting school later this year as all places in autism units at schools nearby have been filled.

"I know my son has autism. He needs his routine every day, is still in nappies and hits out at others in frustration. My older child has a diagnosis of autism so I know the signs," said the mum of four, from Inchicore, Co. Dublin.

Arthur Houlihan missed out on a school place for next year due to delays in assessment by the HSE, his mother claims

"He is in a mainstream ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education) playschool at the minute but the teachers and I know he would do well in early intervention.

"An assessment of needs was sent to the HSE in September and I received a follow-up email to say that Arthur would be seen by January. I'm still waiting and I lodged a complaint with them in February. I'm still waiting for a reply to that too.

"Unfortunately, I can't afford a private diagnosis but no school will accept him without that diagnosis. He isn't able to go to mainstream school, he needs extra supports. If I had got the diagnosis in January, I would have been able to apply for places in the autism units in September, but they have all been filled now so Arthur won't be able to go to school in September, even if he gets a diagnosis now.

"I'm constantly checking my emails a hundred times a day, hoping something has landed. I'm calling the HSE to be told that if I've made a complaint, then I should ring that department. So I ring the complaints department and I'm told that my email hasn't yet been reviewed. . . .

The HSE say that in April 2024, there are a total of 8,893 children awaiting assessment of needs. 6,963 children are awaiting the assessment for over three months, while 1,174 are on the list for up to three months. There are 756 applicants in the last month for the assessment.

In a statement, the HSE said: "HSE Dublin South, Kildare and West Wicklow (DSKWW) are not in a position to comment on individual cases. However, the Assessment of Need office is making significant efforts to maintain communication with all applicants to apprise them of the situation in relation to delayed Assessment of Need (AON) processes.

"Current delays in AON in the DSKWW are compounded by the requirement to reassess a significant number of children who underwent Assessment of Need between January 2020 and March 2022, arising from Justice Meehan's High Court ruling in March 2022; and by ongoing staffing and recruitment challenges in Disability Services."





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