Cllr Sarah O’Reilly: 2-3 Year Waiting Times for Assessment of Need Simply Unacceptable
Speaking on her Motion at Cavan County Council, Aontú Cllr for Cavan, Sarah O’Reilly, has highlighted the waiting times for Assessments for Autism, and the wider under resourcing of autism and disability services, which cannot continue.
Cllr O’Reilly: “While I acknowledge that waiting time for child services such as Assessment of need in CHO1 have reduced recently, I must highlight that the waiting time for Assessment for Autism in CHO1 is 2-3 years A waiting time of 2-3 years is unacceptable to the families of children awaiting diagnoses, it is unfair to the children themselves, it does not sit easy with me and of course the families of children with Autism are hugely frustrated, they know that early intervention is key to successful outcomes for their children, while they are left waiting. So, if you have a child of 3yrs in need of assessment for Autism and you have to wait another 3 years for a diagnosis – this immediately puts the family and the child of 6yrs on the back foot for school enrolment and services that come along with their diagnoses. Many families by that time have missed the boat for enrolling their children into a school with ASD Unit, places in these schools are at a premium and place are limited and fill up fast.”
“Families who can afford to, go down the route of private assessment - for a child under 3yrs the cost is €1,500 and for a child over 3yrs the cost €950. It would be safe to say that parents who can afford private assessment have access to services sooner and therefore obtain better outcomes for their children. Waiting 2-3 years puts undue pressure on families who genuinely cannot afford private assessment and really should be properly looked after by the state. In many cases, families borrow money to pay for private assessment, this in itself causes much hardship and unnecessary costs to families looking for diagnosis and subsequent access to essential services for children with Autism. Diagnoses opens the door to essential services such as Speech and Language, occupational therapy and physiological services. They are what I call ‘the forgotten children’ any services the get is because their families have fought tooth and nail to get them, this should not be the way. I would ask Minister Donnelly to recognise the failings in the system and put measures in place that allow for assessments in a timely manner and are fair to everyone no matter what their background or financial status.”