Marie Galligan with her son Adam at Shelbourne playground Picture: Michael Cowhey
PARENTS from all over Limerick will take to the streets to campaign against the HSE’s “extremely poor services” for children with autism, as part of a nationwide protest.
The march, entitled Enough is Enough, will start from Merchant’s Quay at 10am on Monday, and will finish outside the HSE office on Catherine Street, where concerned parents will hand in a national petition.
Waiting for interventions and accessing services for children with additional needs are some of many challenges that parents face today, 33-year-old Marie Galligan told the Leader.
Marie’s son Adam, 5, was diagnosed with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] when he was two years and eight months. And while the Westbury mother commends the “phenomenal” intervention team staff, she said that accessing necessary therapies is a major challenge.
“They are brilliant at their job when you get an appointment. They are on their knees with the amount of paperwork, with the amount of clients they have. And with Adam, we were lucky to find a home tutor to mentor him, but that was a fight,” she said.
“But a lot of parents can’t find a tutor, so they are forced to send their child on a bus in the morning to a preschool. And that bus might take 45 minutes to get to their preschool.”
Commenting on the “huge waiting list” for parents, Ms Galligan said that children could be waiting up to 18 months for assessment, before availing of certain therapies.
“When your child is diagnosed with autism, there is a grieving process. You’re devastated by this diagnosis, because someone is telling you that your child may never live independently. You are then putting your trust in the professionals because they know what they are doing. Surely, they are going to help them now give them the interventions that they need. And when you talk to other parents, you realise that you have to fight for everything, and keep ringing them and keep making calls. And a lot of parents are so vulnerable at the start and so desperate and devastated by it.”
Ms Galligan added that this march represents all children and people with disabilities "who have been let down by the health service".
For more information on the march, visit the Enough is Enough Facebook page.