Disabled children wait years for treatment

CHILDREN with disabilities are forced to wait years for treatment with a desperate mother declaring “I could be called a psychologist by the time my son can see one.”

It comes as the justice system is jammed with new legal cases being brought against the HSE almost every week as parents fight to ensure their children receive the care they are legally entitled to under the Disabilities Act 2005 .


Teresa Carr Buckley has two sons Pierce, 13, and Cormac, 9, who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorderCredit: Unknown, clear with photo office
Teresa explained that her son Pierce also suffered from extreme anxiety due to his condition and started self-harming by biting his hands and leaving them badly scarred.


Teresa explained that her son Pierce also suffered from extreme anxiety due to his condition and started self-harming by biting his hands and leaving them badly scarred.Credit: Unknown, clear with photo office

Some 18,303 children are currently on a waiting list for occupational therapy; 8,167 are waiting for speech and language assistance and 9,532 are waiting to see a psychologist.

Teresa Carr Buckley has two sons, Pierce, 13, and Cormac, 9, who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Mum Teresa told the Irish Sun she was forced to battle with the HSE at every stage of her sons’ lives in a bid to get the care they needed.

Teresa took Pierce in for his very first evaluation when he was two years old, but he wasn’t diagnosed with ASD until about two years later after his mother got tired of waiting on the public list. and went to a private service.

This private diagnosis was paid for by St Vincent De Paul because Teresa could not afford the assessment at the time – which can cost up to €650.

She said: “Pierce doesn’t have the strength in his arms to open a jar. I’m currently looking for an occupational therapist and the HSE in my area have told me there’s actually no occupational therapist in Enniscorthy at the moment.

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“So I could wait months or years to get help from Pierce. The only alternative for me now is to go private.


Pierce also suffers from extreme anxiety due to his condition and began self-harming by biting his hands and leaving them badly scarred.

Teresa tried for four years to get access to a psychologist for Pierce, but instead was offered to enroll him in an outdoor education camp.

The HSE sees this camp as a respite service for Teresa – a service she applied for in 2017 but did not receive.

She said: ‘The waiting list for a psychologist was so long it was almost four years. So I could almost have been called a psychologist the moment Pierce saw a psychologist.

Pierce’s little brother Cormac has been forced to wait two-and-a-half years for speech therapy and has only got the support he needs through his St Senan’s Primary School which has raised funds for pay for private services to help their students.

Hundreds of parents have taken the state to court because their children are being left without care on waiting lists that can last up to three years.

John Rogers is a barrister whose firm Rogers Law has been involved on a pro bono basis in many cases where families have taken legal action against the HSE over these huge waiting lists.

Under the Disabilities Act 2005, children are legally entitled to have their needs assessed within six months – however the HSE is falling short of this, with some children having to wait two years just to know what their disability is and what services they need.

Figures released in November last year show 212 legal cases have been brought against the HSE over a failure to obtain assessments for children, but barrister John Rogers told the Irish Sun that of more and more cases are brought to court every week.

He said: ‘It takes up to two years in some parts of the country for children to be assessed. It’s also a geographical lottery because in Cork you can wait three years to see someone, while in Sligo there is no waiting list.

“It is time for these children not to come back and this is damaging their future.

“After you get an assessment, you could then wait another three years for the services you need. Thus, a child who is three years old when he begins the process may be nine years old by the time he receives the services he needs.

“Parents don’t want to come see lawyers. It’s terrifying for them. But they have to go to court so that their children get the services to which they are entitled.


In a statement to the Irish Sun, the HSE admitted that in 2018 there were delays in investigating complaints from families, which led to a number of lawsuits.

They said six cases had been brought so far this year due solely to the delay in investigating the complaints as well as a number of other court cases related to other aspects of the ratings system. needs.

An HSE spokesperson told the Irish Sun that an internal review of the needs assessment system found inconsistencies and inconsistencies in services which led to the new change to a standard operating procedure.

She said: “These changes are intended to alleviate the current situation where children in some parts of the country can wait several years before they can access an assessment.

“During this waiting period, they often have little or no access to intervention or support.

“It is anticipated that the changes to the SOP, particularly the new Preliminary Assessment, will provide children with disabilities with faster access to assessment.”

About Antoine L. Cassell

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