The Alarming Mistreatment and Denial by the Government in relation to Children with Special Needs:
The plight of children with special needs is not an easy one. Recent figures confirm that over 15,000 children nationwide are waiting on a basic initial assessment. Assessment is key as it helps identify special needs which can then be addressed through proper care and support in the crucial early years of childhood. Acting on the concerns of parents in Greystones, Kilcoole, Charlesland and Delgany, James Doyle, a Greystones local election candidate, was shocked to learn that 781 children in the Wicklow area have yet to be assessed.
Commenting on these alarming figures Doyle was adamant that “when it comes to children with special needs early intervention is critical. The number of children awaiting assessment is unacceptable”. Referring to the fact that many parents have had to wait up to 18 months for an assessment, the Fianna Fail candidate cautioned that “if we allow a situation to develop where children have to wait months, and in cases, more than a year, for an assessment, the chances of them developing to the best of their potential will be severely compromised”.
Doyle, who has special needs within his family, argues that “from my personal experience and from what I am hearing on the door step, families and communities can only do so much. It is essential that the Government and HSE step up to their responsibilities and stop the slide”.
As someone with hopes of starting a family himself Doyle summed up the Government’s record on special needs as “completely disgraceful”. The Greystones candidate drew a parallel with school places in Wicklow saying that “parents in and near the town are continuously let down when it comes to children’s basic needs”.
Reflecting on recently announced cuts in resources for early intervention teams in the Dublin area the qualified solicitor fears this “will only exacerbate the problem”. He concluded: “I am calling on the Government to ring-fence funding for children with special needs, engage with schools and creches in identifying issues earlier and reform the manner and timelines of how special needs supports are delivered to the people of Wicklow.