Wednesday 11 December 2019

Health Minister recalls battle to get help for his own son

Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly spoke yesterday of how his son was described as mentally retarded as a child but went on to graduate with honours from Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Reilly became visibly upset as he recalled: "We were told at the age of three that our son was atypical. A psychologist deemed the young boy mentally retarded."

However, his son -- whom he asked not to be named -- went on to attend mainstream school from the age of 11. He was speaking at a conference in the university organised by the Psychological Society of Ireland to mark the launch of new guidelines to standardise the diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders.

Asked what made the difference in his son's life after getting such a diagnosis, Dr Reilly replied: "His mother."

He said his wife kept seeking help for their son until she got what she wanted.

Dr Reilly is to appoint one official to oversee the issues of autism and special needs across three departments with responsibility in this area: health, children and education.

Irish Independent

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