News Education

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Special needs cut letter sent 'in error'

Published 28/08/2014 | 11:16

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Bridgette and Mark Keane

PARENTS of special needs children were left furious after a letter was circulated "in error" advising that speech and language therapy (SLT) services for schools would cease this month.

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The letter, from Ballymun Road-based St Michael's House, claimed that the HSE recruitment ban meant that new therapists could not be hired to fill vacancies.

It informed parents that services could, therefore, not be provided for children in the Support Teams for Education in Mainstream Schools (STEMS) programme and would end in August this year.

However, after Fianna Fail's Colm Keaveney publicly made representations about the situation, the institution claimed that the letter was sent in error.

The letter, written by Caroline Howoth, the SLT manager at St Michael's, concluded that it was not possible to provide SLT cover so support in STEMS would cease from August 2014.

Mary O'Connor, clinic manager at the institution, told the Herald there had been a resolution with the HSE.

"It went out in error, St Michael's House has written to families to inform them that the letter went out in error," she said.

She said the SLT service would be provided in the coming term.

A spokesperson for the HSE echoed Ms O'Connor's comments saying that it was sent in error and declining to comment on the specifics of the resolution.

But parent Bridgette Keane said that she was furious when she received the letter regarding her son Mark (both inset), who last benefited from the service in December 2013.

"He has Down syndrome and he's non-verbal. This letter arrived today and his speech therapist is the one that left, I didn't know she had left," she explained. "Angry is not the word, I was fuming, absolutely fuming."

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