Monday 29 May 2017

Our daughter has a right to an education, like every other child

A capping of new applications for SNAs will ensure that another generation grows up in ignorance of children with special needs, says Brendan O'Connor

I'M glad that Ruairi Quinn feels, as he calls it, "blessed" that he doesn't have a child with an intellectual disability. But I kind of wish he'd have kept his trap shut about that. My wife told me she cried a lot last Tuesday.

My daughter, who happens to have Down Syndrome, was eight months old on Tuesday. And as she celebrated that little milestone, my wife listened to Ruairi Quinn on Morning Ireland talking about his refusal to allow any new applications for Special Needs Assistants for children who need an SNA to function in the education system.

It was the first time in a while she felt that our daughter's birth was a bad thing. When you first get into this business, there's a lot of crying. But then you find that some whole days go by when you don't cry, and gradually it diminishes, as joy and determination and acceptance take over and as love and devotion grows.

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