A mother who has been forced to leave Ireland to access autism treatment for her children is calling on Irish people to come together and fight for better care.
Jaqueline Ercolani had to split up her family to take her two-year-old twins to Brazil for autism treatment after she was told they would have to wait two or three years in Ireland.
Her nine-year-old daughter stayed in Ireland with her husband while she travelled to Brazil where the twins, Leonardo and Victoria, were seen immediately.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, she said she first contacted doctors with concerns about her children’s development in August 2020.
“When you hear the word autism, it is really scary when you don’t know anything,” she said. “Especially when they say to you, you need to act now.
“When your child has symptoms of autism, you have to act now; get treatment now because delays are not just going to disappear, no, delays are going to get worse and worse.”
She said she was originally offered an online meeting before getting a letter saying she would have to wait for two or three years.
“I contacted them on the phone and the manager said my son was in the position 250 and that was what I should expect – there was nothing that was going to change,” she said.
Jaqueline and her husband decided they would use their savings to access private care for the twins – but even then, the waiting list was at least six months.
“When I contacted all the clinics in Dublin, they all had waiting lists,” she said. “I need to fight for my kids. I mean, I am a mother, but I can’t make miracles.
“I said I am going to Brazil. I know that in Brazil they take autism more seriously so I contacted some clinics and they said they would accept me.”
Jaqueline took the twins to Brazil to access care for four months while her husband cared for their nine-year-old daughter Isabella at home.
She is due to return next month when Victoria is due to undergo heart surgery.
She said the care they have received in the past few months has really made a difference.
“They are improving, thank God,” she said. “The approach here is really good.
“The level of professionalism is really good. Of course, I am paying for it but in Ireland, even if I paid, I wouldn’t have any treatment.”
"Fight for autism"
Jaqueline has spoken to the Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman about her case and all she can do now is hope she arrives back to good news.
She urged people all over Ireland to pull together to cut autism waiting lists.
“Please, all famous people that are in Ireland – Bono, Westlife where are you?” she asked.
“Let’s fight for autism. Let’s organise concerts to get money. Your country needs you.
“I am Brazilian; I was not born in Ireland and I am fighting for this. Please all famous companies - Facebook, Google - let's fight for autism.”
You can listen back here.