Friday 20 September 2019

'There's no help and nowhere to turn' - young mum has waited two years for respite care for son with autism

Catherine Griffin with her son Cathal (5)
Catherine Griffin with her son Cathal (5)

Daniel Keating

A young mother of a boy with severe autism says she has "nowhere to turn" having waited more than two years for respite care for her child.

Five-year-old Cathal Griffin was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. His mother Catherine Griffin (34) has her hands full caring for her autistic son as well as his younger brother Joey (4).

Cathal, who is nonverbal, has been put on a waiting lists for two different facilities.

His condition requires round-the-clock care, which Ms Griffin said can "take its toll".

"I am a full-time carer day and night, and without hesitation gave up my career to look after Cathal. There's no help and nowhere to turn," she said.

She has been asked to be bridesmaid at her sister's wedding next year, but doesn't know if she can attend, as she has nobody who is able to look after her son. She feels she is not getting adequate support for Cathal's needs.

"The bigger he gets, the harder it will be," the mother, who lives in Kilcoolan, near Ballyneety village, Co Limerick, told the 'Limerick Leader'.

A spokesperson from the HSE said that in the Mid-West, children with complex needs can avail of multi-disciplinary supports through seven Early Intervention Teams and six School Age Teams.

Ms Griffin said that it is "all reports but there is no follow-up and interventions. If anything happens to me, I don't know what would happen to Cathal, as my parents wouldn't be able to look after him".

According to Ms Griffin, who previously worked in hotel management, the last time Cathal got speech therapy was seven months ago and she said that "it's not the therapist's fault, it's down to staffing issues".

A spokesperson for the HSE said: "In general, there is a high and increasing demand for respite services for children across the country and the Mid-West is no different in this regard.

"We do provide respite through our partner agencies."

While the HSE explained it does not comment on individual cases, it encourages families and parents who are in difficulty to contact a health professional most familiar with them, or its complaints mechanism "Your Service, Your Say".

Irish Independent

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