A five-year-old girl with autism has been refused a place at more than 20 schools in the Dublin area.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Dublin mother Jennifer Quinn said her daughter Eva is turning six-years-old this summer – and is now facing her fourth year of pre-school.
Eva is autistic and non-verbal and has a moderate intellectual disability.
Jennifer said Eva has been recommended for special school or for an autism class in a mainstream school.
“She couldn’t possibly cope in mainstream and because of that, we need the special school and we are at the point now where we have applied for upwards of 20 schools,” she said.
“We have been refused from every school so far and it is looking like she will have to do a fourth year of pre-school.”
She said they had the same problems last year and were told that it “wouldn’t do Eva any harm” to spend another year in pre-school.
“Now she is coming up to six and she doesn’t have anything,” she said. “She needs a special school. “They have said she can go to a unit in mainstream school but as her parents we think a special school would be most suitable and that is what the pre-school are advising us as well.
“She is non-verbal; she doesn’t talk and it really needs to be a special school.”
Jennifer said Eva could now find herself in a situation where she is seven-years-old before she starts school.
“We are so worried,” she said. “I find I am getting upset every day.
“Every time a letter comes in refusing her, I am just crying. Myself and my husband we are losing sleep over it because if she doesn’t get a place before September there is no guarantee she will get one for next year and she will be seven then.”
She said the family was offered a Home Tuition Grant to hire a tutor to educate Eva at home – but the Department of Education will not help them find a suitable tutor.
“She is an autistic little girl,” she said. “She needs the social interaction. She has to nearly be taught how to socialise with other children and it is detrimental if she is not around other children.”
The family has contacted a number of TDs about the matter as well as Tusla; however, “no-one seems to want to take ownership of it.”
“She is slipping through the cracks I feel and the book is just being passed,” she said.
“We emailed the minister on March 21st and didn’t even get an acknowledgement.”
Jennifer said she is just glad that Eva is not aware of what is happening.
“In a way, I am just happy that she doesn’t have the cognitive ability to understand that she can’t go to school like all the other kids,” she said. “Because that would just be heart-breaking.”
Over recent weeks, The Hard Shoulder’s ‘Give Them a Voice’ campaign has been highlighting the basic services that are being denied to our most vulnerable citizens - children with additional needs.
In highlighting these issues, the goal is to ensure a better service for the children who desperately need these services.
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