June 11, 2018, (Ireland) Leinster Express: Laois children waiting four years for therapy in 'nonsensical' HSE says charity Chair https://www.leinsterexpress.ie/news/portlaoise-/318020/laois-children-waiting-four-years-for-therapy-in-nonsensical-hse-says-charity-chair.html Children with complex needs in Laois are waiting up to four years for vital services such as occupational therapy, due to a ‘nonsensical’ HSE system says a Laois Offaly charity chairperson. Mary Dunne is the Chairperson of the Laois Offaly Families for Autism (LOFFA) charity. She works with families who have children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Ms Dunne has called the HSE ‘nonsensical’ and difficult to access for families who are new to ASD. “We are seeing waiting lists up to four years for occupational therapy. There is a peculiar policy in the HSE that every time a child is seen they are discharged regarding their conditions. “Parents are reporting that sessions are getting shorter, a block of therapy with the HSE used to be six sessions but more often now it is four sessions and children are back on the waiting list to start all over again regardless of their condition or their needs. … Over 400 families are registered with LOFFA. The charity works to help families in Laois and Offaly to subsidise the cost of therapies for children with complex ASD. … “I have three children on the spectrum and my youngest has complex needs, and I had to go to the UK to even find out what his needs are. It is awful stressful on parents and worrying plus financially it is huge…. “Children with complex needs such as Autism need a multi disciplinary team but instead are being seen in isolation by individual disciplines and in the experience of LOFFA members there is very little communication and cooperation between therapists. “I really worry about new families, they can’t even get a diagnosis. There are young families with small kids just starting out in the hugely complex HSE system that is so difficult to even access in the first place. “Three years ago when we protested we didn’t think it could get any worse but it has,” she said. Last week, Laois TD Brian Stanley said the number of children waiting on Occupational Therapy services have 'escalated to an all time high'.