03 Jul 2022

Tipperary mother sets up social media site to support parents of children with disabilities

Tipperary mother sets up social media site to support parents of children with disabilities

A county Tipperary mother has set up a Facebook page to support parents encountering difficulties and delays securing services for their children with disabilities and special needs.
The Tipperary Parents Unite for Children’s Disability Services Facebook page has been set up by Edwina Morrissey McElhinney as a forum providing and sharing information to support families of children with disabilities.
Edwina, who is from the Cahir area, set up the page a few weeks ago because so many parents of children with disabilities are encountering difficulties and delays in getting their child’s disability assessed as well as securing health and education services.
She said the Facebook page’s aim is to unite Tipperary parents of children with disabilities and also raise awareness of State services and supports children with disabilities and their families are entitled to secure.
Edwina has personal experience of the bureaucratic difficulties parents of children with disabilities face.
She said her four-year-old son, who has autism, has been on a waiting list for 18 months to secure occupational therapy.
She is frustrated at the “pass the parcel” way she and other parents are treated by the HSE and Government departments when they are trying to get services like this for their children.
Parents of children with disabilities she has talked to feel “downtrodden” at battling to get the services their child requires.
The constant pressure from this lack of support and having to fight for services really affects their health and relationships, she said.
Public meeting
Edwina was involved in organising a public meeting about the difficulties Tipperary families of children face in dealing with the HSE and Government departments in the Talbot Hotel in Clonmel (formerly the Clonmel Park Hotel) on Monday, April 4.
The public meeting was hosted by Tipperary Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne and addressed by Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson, the Waterford TD David Cullinane.
Deputy Browne said people who attended the public meeting recounted the challenges they encounter accessing medical, health therapy and education services.
He said one parent spoke of how their 21-year-old was waiting five years to get an appointment with a neurologist while others highlighted their long waits to get occupational therapy and speech and language therapy for their children.
This was very frustrating for families especially because of the importance of early intervention in introducing these therapies.
Deputy Browne pointed out that none of the country’s 91 Children’s Disability Network teams tasked with providing services to children with disabilities were fully staffed and his party was pressuring the Government to change this situation.

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