Disabled teenagers 'lose everything' from the State once they turn 18, the mother of a young man with complex needs has said.
Aisling McNiffe’s son, Jack, has intellectual disabilities, is nonverbal and also uses a wheelchair.
He requires care 24 hours a day, is fed by a tube and takes dozens of regular medications and injections.
Jack sees a social worker and occupational therapist for now, but that could completely change when the 18-year-old finishes school.
“Once you’re 18, you lose everything,” he said.
“There is a transition team for adults in our area but, to be honest, I don’t know, I think everywhere is working with a skeleton staff at the moment.”
Despite this, Jack is still in school, having missed out on several years of his education due to the pandemic and a recent illness that left him hospitalised.
“When he reached 18 in July, it was after an eight-and-a-half month stint in Crumlin Hospital where he had a really prolonged admission because he was extremely ill,” Ms McNiffe said.
“This came on the back of cocooning for years because of COVID; so, he missed three-and-a-half-years of school.”
As Jack started school at the age of six, the family were hopeful that their request for him to be able to return to school for an extra year would be accepted.
“I was fairly sure he would get his extra year and he did, thank goodness,” Ms McNiffe said.
“I’d love to apply for another extra year but I spoke to somebody about this, his teacher said even when they were applying for this extra year, the Department of Education wasn't interested that he’d been ill so much… The only thing they were interested in was that he hadn’t completed the Junior Cycle.”
Earlier this week, pensioner Antonette said she was surprised to learn that she was not entitled to a one off €400 payment for disabled people announced in last month’s budget.
After she reached pension age, Antonette stopped receiving the Disability Allowance and began to draw her pension instead.
Despite this, she is still disabled and expected she would receive the one off payment.
“I can’t be the only pensioner in the country that was looking to have that money to pay for Christmas,” she said.
“Not to get, it just seems a little bit unfair to me… I actually need that money.”
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Main image: Aisling McNiffe and her son Jack.