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(Ireland) School system fails to support severely affected/non-verbal 12 y.o. girl

Feb 18, 2023, Irish Sun: TIRELESS FIGHT / After a six year battle my autistic daughter got just three months of vital support, says mum as she slams services

A MUM has blasted ¬support services for kids with special needs as she begged for help for her 12-year-old daughter.

Mary Jane Maguire, from Dundalk, Co Louth, told how Mary Kate has been diagnosed with severe ¬intellectual disability and non-verbal autism.

Despite getting a court order that demanded Child and Family Agency Tusla step in, her daughter only got three months of the promised support.

Mary Jane, said: “I have fought tirelessly for nearly six years to get a court order that doesn’t seem to be worth the paper it’s ¬written on.”

The mum told how Mary Kate can say just two words at the age of 12. She says that she has been constantly let down when it comes to additional support.

Mary Jane said: “She can’t express when she’s going through pain. As I said, she has no communication.

“She’s 12 years old and is practically non-verbal….

“My daughter has no communication device because we’ve been constantly held up by Tusla when it ¬concerns funding.”

Mary Kate was diagnosed with severe intellectual ¬disability and non-verbal autism when she was four years old.

Mary Jane then struggled to find her a school place due to her complex needs.

The heartbroken mum said: “That’s where the trouble began. Once she was of school-going age, that meant I couldn’t obtain the services she needed through disability services.

“I’d have to get speech and language, occupational therapy or play therapy.

“Whatever therapy she needed would have to be accessed through the school.”


Mary Kate became a pupil at St Mary’s, Drumcar, but her mum discovered her needs were not being met.

The 35-year-old said: “Disability was paying for one speech and language therapist, to go out to Drumcar for the residents that were permanently staying there, and the odd time that therapist would come over to school maybe once a month.

“So my daughter got a block of four half-hour sessions in a classroom, with six of her peers, and that was it. She never received any more therapy, so I decided the only way to go about this was to go down the legal route.”

Mary Jane said the first year Mary Kate was in school was challenging as she continuously received calls to come pick her daughter up….

“I couldn’t get a respite. The respite was only two days every six weeks, but they would often send her home.

“They’d say her needs were too ¬complex for their carers.”


Eventually, Mary Jane decided to bring the Health Service Executive and Tusla to court to gain access to the Speech and Language and Occupational therapists Mary Kate needed. She spent more than 16 months fighting until a judge eventually ordered Tusla and disability services to fund the care in November 2021.

But, despite the court order, the mum claims Mary Kate received the support for just three months before it ended completely in April.

“Everything was finalised in November and completely and utterly stopped by April, I believe — and for the past eight and a half months now at this stage, there has been no therapy,” she said.

“I’m constantly being turned away.”…


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