HSE says it can't pay for services to help disabled teen
THE mother of an autistic teenager, who was forced to take a gruelling High Court challenge more than a decade ago to secure him an education, has spoken of her fears for his future after he leaves school later this month.
Jason Nagle (19), Castlepark, Tallaght, will leave the St John of God school in two weeks' time – but they've been told by the HSE that it can't afford to pay for any day services for him.
It means the young man, who cannot speak and also suffers from epilepsy, has no option but to languish at home.
His mother Margaret said: "It is very distressing that at this stage, after all the battles, Jason is being let down again.
"In 2001 we had to take a High Court case for Jason who was eight years old but had no schooling for over a year. The judge made a mandatory order in our favour and said little was done to vindicate his rights by the Department of Education."
Since then Jason has been attending St Raphael's school, run by the St John of God order in Kildare, where he has two special assistants and a teacher.
"Our child has exceptional medical needs," said Margaret. "He must leave St John of God's on June 26. We are desperately worried for him. We have pleaded with the HSE but have nowhere left to turn."
Margaret and her husband Jason have two other sons Michael (9) and Christopher (7) who have a mild form of dyspraxia, a developmental disorder which affects co-ordination.
Jason's schooling has been funded by the Department of Education and the HSE has provided €24,000 annually to take him to and from school daily.
He was due to leave school last year but the department extended it for another 12 months to allow the HSE time to find him another place in a disability centre.
"There are services suitable for Jason but the HSE won't pay. Currently he has a sensory room in St John of God's. He is mostly on his own but mixes with other classes a couple of times a day."
Jason suffers severe epileptic fits and needs the support of a psychiatrist. "We are not even getting phone calls returned from the HSE at this stage," said Margaret.
The HSE told the Irish Independent that it works with the providers of disability care to try to plan for school leavers who need a specialist placement.
"The HSE assesses each case on an individual basis so the most appropriate service is identified within the resources available," said a spokeswoman.
Paddy Connolly, chief executive of Inclusion Ireland, the support organisation for people with an intellectual disability, said hundreds were facing a summer of uncertainty: "The Government has failed to plan for the third year in a row.
"It is likely those school leavers with higher or more complex support needs will get a limited service," he warned.