Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.40 13 Feb 2020


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A man whose son has waited four years for a special needs assessment says he believes he was on the wrong waiting list.

Padraig O'Neachtain, from Tipperary, was responding after figures released to Newstalk revealed that almost 4,500 children are waiting for a HSE special needs assessment.

Over 3,250 applications for children with disabilities are at least three months overdue.

An 'assessment of need' allows children to be diagnosed with a disability, such as autism, and then apply for the care they need.

The HSE is supposed to have these assessments finished within six months.

But according to new figures, which relate to the end of December, that target is not being met in many cases.

A total of 3,256 assessments were at least three months overdue at that point.

They include 812 children in the north Dublin region, along with 650 cases in Cork and Kerry.

Padraig told Newstalk Breakfast his son, also named Padraig, was diagnosed with dyspraxia.

"We were on a list waiting for an assessment and he was also [to see] the early intervention team at the same time - but again on the list.

"We were waiting and waiting - and it was only I think 2017 when we got an assessment for him from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).

"It was approximately four years...but in the meantime what we did was we spoke to the teacher and stuff.

"And we decided to go privately and through that assessment he was diagnosed with dyspraxia.

"We were able to say 'give that paperwork to the school' - so the school in turn was able then to apply for extra resource hours.

"In terms of the CAMHS assessment... really maybe we were in the wrong service.

"CAMHS really deal with mental health issues, whereas autism or any other intellectual disability is totally different.

"So we were referred from CAMHS back on to the School Age Scheme.

"We were a year and a half waiting on that list after CAMHS, right up until November 2018".

Padraig said he was diagnosed on the autism scale, but they are still on another list to seek intervention.

"We could be waiting for another year and a half before any interventions happen".

But he added: "Every child that's born in this country should be treated as a child - the same equal rights - and it does come down to rights in a way.

"I feel like kids with additional needs aren't being treated with the same rights as a child who has no additional needs.

"These children, if they have the right interventions and the right services, can grow up and live a normal healthy life with no problem".

The HSE has acknowledged the numbers of assessments overdue for completion remain high.

But it said there has been some improvement over the past two years.


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Autism CAMHS Children With Disabilities Dyspraxia Newstalk Breakfast Padraig O'Neachtain Special Needs Tipperary Waiting List

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