'Absolute cruelty' of cuts by HSE

Sheila McCarthy at home in Castleisland with her son James
Sheila McCarthy at home in Castleisland with her son James

Marisa Reidy

A CASTLEISLAND mother who has seen her autistic son's condition deteriorate hugely since the HSE slashed services at his school this week described the cutbacks as 'absolute cruelty'.

Sheila McCarthy said that because of the HSE's 'reconfiguration' of children's disability services in Kerrry, her 12-year-old son can no longer communicate as well as he used to and has not had vital access to an occupational therapist in almost 12 months.

Sheila's son, James, is a pupil at St Francis Special School in Beaufort, where the latest cutbacks have left 52 children with severe to profound disabilities with little or no access to vital services.

The school that once had provided full time occupational and physio therapy and three days of speech and langauage therapay has had services reduced by up to 90 per cent, Sheila claimed. The school has also lost its full-time psychologist, who is now only available on referral.

"My son has a chance to communicate but he needs intervention from a professional and he is being denied that by HSE cutbacks. That is absolute cruelty," she said. "I saw how he was before the cuts and there's no doubt he was better able to communicate. I never thought this could be done to our children in 2014 and it's such an insult that we have to fight for this."