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(Ireland) Gov't 'completely and utterly let down ASD children; $11.6M US to handle backlog

Oct 10, 2020, Longford Leader: Longford mothers lift lid on State's ‘broken’ autism system Four Longford parents of autistic children have spoken of their heartbreak at being “completely and utterly let down” by a system which has “failed” them and their families. In a hard-hitting and damning indictment of Ireland’s autism services, the quartet spoke candidly about how a support process aimed at safeguarding and providing vital cognitive, behavioural as well as speech and language assistance to their children has done the exact opposite. Josephine Feeney, Kelly Gannon, Dolores Needham and Jennifer McKenna are all parents of children who attend the autism spectrum unit at St Teresa’s autism spectrum unit in Killoe. All four told of how their attempts to provide emotional and structural support for their sons and daughters have turned into a daily fight to secure life-changing developmental services in the face of a worsening Covid-19 pandemic…. “It’s not just the Phoenix Centre that’s at fault. Right through Ireland, it’s the government controlling all of this,” she said. “We are told to ask for help and when we ask for help which I have done and it’s closed doors the whole time. “I feel completely let down by the Government, even the whole system of trying to get your diagnosis, of trying to get your child in, the waiting list, the constant forms, it’s all wrong.” … “The speech therapist Darragh was under only works two days a week so she could have 200 to 300 kids, how is she meant to see all of those kids working two days a week? “It’s just not possible and like that when people go on maternity leave they are not replaced. The Government announced the other day they are putting €10m [$15M U.S.] into disability services, that’s nowhere near enough. … “There should be more units at each school. More kids are getting diagnosed and it’s a fight to get your child into the unit and we are blessed we have our kids in a unit but every school should have a unit of some description. You shouldn’t have to look outside your own are to get your child an education, they have a right to an education.” ‘I can’t put into words how angry I am, how upset I am and how let down my little boy is and my family is’ An acute lack of management and knowing who or what department to turn to has proven to be an almost constant thorn in the side of Dolores Needham…. As a frontline healthcare worker herself, Dolores is all to aware of the pressures that confront the State’s already constrained health industry. She claimed moves by HSE chiefs to reassign staff in a bid to keep a lid on Ireland’s coronavirus fallout has been to the detriment of not just her child but umpteen others across a system which is in dire need of investment. “You have cancellations and promises that never come true,” she said, as she detailed how Keelan has not seen a psychologist in two and a half years…. Health Minister Stephen Donnelly last week announced details of a €7.8m [$11.6M U.S.] capital investment to help clear the huge backlog of thousands of children with conditions like autism on waiting lists for an assessment of need. It's anticipated the funding will allow clinicians to see more children by working overtime with additional staff being hired. But as Dolores attested to, for children like Keelan the onus is not on two, three or four years down the line, it's now that those services are needed and put in place…. “I feel completely let down by the HSE, completely,” she stated in no uncertain terms. “There is no support there, there is no support there for us as parents, there is no support there for our kids, for their siblings, there is nothing. “As for services, what services? There is no services. Nobody answers to anybody. In my situation, I am lost for words. I can’t put into words how angry I am, how upset I am and how let down my little boy is and my family is.”…


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