Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.55 19 Feb 2021


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The mother of a four-year-old child has said her daughter is seen as a 'disability' rather than a person.

Tracy Carroll's daughter Willow (4) suffered a brain injury at birth and now suffers from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and has other medical needs.

She requires full-time care.

Tracy told The Hard Shoulder she is trying to get her daughter into school.

"There's no options for school because Willow is not seen as a child - she's seen as a disability.

"She's not eligible, I suppose, for junior infants and she's not given equal rights.

"As far as I'm concerned it's discrimination: from her first day in school there is no option, where does it go from there?"

Tracy said Willow did not have a montessori place locally and had to travel, but the pandemic has stopped that.

However there is one school nearby which is a special care unit.

"To apply for that, even just to apply, I've been told that Willow has to have a psychological assessment - a four-year-old who's non-verbal needs a psychological assessment to apply to start school".

"We were told that there's a large waiting list and the places are very limited, so more than likely she's not going to be offered a place.

"So there's our only option, locally, removed".

'We're failing at educating them'

She has approached her son's school about the idea of a classroom for children like Willow.

"We shouldn't have to use these words, we shouldn't have to say 'an inclusive society, special needs' - it should be just 'education' and that's it.

"And every single child is educated differently, no matter what way they present."

"Every child has different interests and different strengths and different weaknesses - and that's where we should be pushing, for what they can be educated, what way we can be educated [sic].

"So I feel that we're failing at educating them - the children aren't failing at being educated, we just haven't adapted different models to suit every child".

Tracy said Willow has her own interests, just like everyone else.

"She's as bright as a button, very engaged - obviously she's intellectually disabled as well - but she's really engaged.

"Really part of the family, loves the social environment and thrives on other children.

"She has her interests, like every other child, there's things that she gets excited about.

"[She] loves the dog, spends her time shouting at the dog.

"For me it's about finding those little things for Willow, those things that we can enhance within her, and allow her to progress.

"Every child should be given the opportunity to progress in whatever way they can.

"Let's focus on their abilities and educate their abilities."

She added: "But we need to educate people to educate our children - and every single child in our country is entitled to an education, and should be given the right to an education."

'My daughter is seen as a disability, not a child' - Mother appeals for school place

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Main: Tracy and Willow are seen in this family photo. Picture by: Facebook

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Brain Injury Cerebral Palsy Disability Discrimination Epilepsy Psychological Assessment The Hard Shoulder Tracy Carroll Willow

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