Excuses and Delays for Children’s Disability Services Must Not be Tolerated

‘Unfortunately in Ireland at this time, more than 50% of the families of children
with disabilities that were surveyed by ‘Inclusion Ireland’ reported that they were
not in receipt of any medical therapies. A separate survey, undertaken by Down
Syndrome Ireland, confirms this finding, with almost half of their respondents
reporting that they had received no therapy of any kind in the last year.

‘Put yourself in the place of the parents of these children. You love your child. You
want the very best for them. You want them to learn and achieve everything they
possibly can. You want them to have access to everything they require. You
certainly do not want to have to fight or beg for essential services for your child,
to scramble for your child’s entitlements. It’s a battle lost before the struggle
begins. This is the stark reality for families of disabled children.

‘Down Syndrome Ireland recently released details of a survey carried out with 400
of their members on the services received over the past year. 65% received no
Speech and Language Therapy, 70% received no Physiotherapy, 87% received no
Occupational Therapy and 95% received no Psychology service. Overall, 44% of
those surveyed received no Therapy service of any kind. It’s an appalling vista.

‘When the results of this survey were put to the HSE, they replied that ‘there are
91 Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs) across the country and that these
teams ensure that children with complex needs can access child and family
centred supports based on their need rather than their diagnosis’

‘When questioned by the Joint Oireachtas Committee, it emerged that the HSE is
functioning on 75 percent of it’s capacity. So the truth remains they have an
under-staffed service where over-worked professionals cannot meet demands.

‘When we hear these figures and statistics they alarm us. They are frustrating and
annoying. Yet to really grasp what these figures mean we must look beyond the
numbers. We must fully comprehend how the lack of services impacts on those
who are left without them.

‘These children and young people are not numbers. They are young girls and
boys. They are sons and daughters. They are people who need support but that
help is being denied them.

‘To deny them the necessary supports is to deny them the chance to live their
best lives. It prevents the young person and their families from reaching their
maximum potential. It confines them to a life controlled by disability, rather than
providing the means to live where a disabled family member can contribute the
very best of themselves.

‘Not providing essential therapies is a form of neglect. Every therapy
recommended for a child with disabilities is vital for that child. They help them to
gain coping skills, to learn self regulation, to learn social skills and social thinking,
to understand their own strengths and weaknesses, to connect with their
emotions and it helps to improve their self-esteem.
‘To deny them this help is top deny them their basic fundamental rights as
individuals. It prevents them from achieving their full potential.
‘The HSE state that they are seeking to address the shortage of staff required to
provide services to all children with disabilities. They state that they are working
to identify gaps and to develop a comprehensive workforce plan for the sector.
‘I call these responses platitudes. We need to ask the HSE to provide evidence of
exactly what they are doing to provide services for vulnerable children and young
people? How much time will it take to identify and address the gaps. What is the
timescale involved. When can we expect to see an efficient and effective service
in place.

‘Children in Tipperary and across the country in every town and village do not
have the time to wait for the HSE to ‘seek’ and to ‘identify’. They need the
services urgently. As children, this is their window of opportunity to access the
help they need’