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Monday 17 December 2018

Mum of boy (7) who is self-harming fears 'burying her son' due to lack of help

Vicki Cadogan with her son Harry
Vicki Cadogan with her son Harry
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

The mother of a seven-year-old boy who is self-harming said she fears she will have to bury her son if he doesn't get professional help.

Vicki Cadogan from Clareview, Limerick said that her seven-year-old son Harry has autism and is constantly self-harming.

"Harry was diagnosed with autism last year after a private consultation. He has a lot of sensory issues but he is a good boy who can be very placid at times," Vicki told

"When he gets mad or frustrated he takes it out on himself and it's very hard to watch. He starts banging his two fists against his head as hard as he can or he'll slam his head against our tile floor or anything that's near him.

"It's heartbreaking watching my son do this to himself. I brought Harry into this world hoping that he would reach his full potential and be the best person that he can be.

"As his mother, I'm supposed to love and protect him but when he starts harming himself, I don't know what to do. You're not supposed to restrain kids with autism when they get frustrated but nobody is telling me what I should be doing."

Vicki and her husband Aiden, who also have a four-year-old girl called Beth, have repeatedly tried to get psychological help for their young son.

"Through physical therapy he has tried the sensory route to release his frustration but it isn't working. He has a trampoline and sensory relief games to get his frustration out but it isn't helping. His speech and play therapists say he needs the help of a psychologist but we can’t get an appointment for him."

Vicki said that her young son is facing a huge waiting list for both public and private mental health facilities in Limerick.

Harry is currently on the waiting list for child psychology services through the Blackberry care centre in Limerick.

"The centre is supposed to have two psychologists but since May 2017 there has been none. One of them is on maternity leave and another is waiting to take up the post pending clearance for policing authorities in the USA where he previously worked. A temporary psychologist is supposed to be starting in March but I don't know how long I will have to wait to get Harry seen.

"We have no psychologist available and the children are really suffering."

The distraught mother has called for an independent regulator to review mental health services across the country.

"The lack of funding from the HSE is the issue. The HSE does not want to spend money on the mental health services for children and it is appalling. An independent review board should be in place to monitor the services. We have a body for nursing homes, why can't we have one for our children's services?"

Vicki said she fears for her son's future if he doesn't get early intervention.

"I fear for his future. If this is what he is like at seven-years'-old, what will he be like as a teenager? I could have to bury my child in the future because he didn't get early intervention care. The HSE is just pushing the problem down the line."

She added that many other children across the country are similarly suffering.

"These children are our future but the HSE isn't concerned for their future. I'm begging the HSE to give these children a chance and give them an available psychologist in the area.

"The HSE is aware that the post is empty and leaving it empty is disgusting and sheer negligence. I just want Harry to have a fair chance at life."

In a statement the HSE said:

"Recruitment for the post of Clinical Psychologist commenced in 2017 with interviews held the first week in October. Currently a candidate is being processed for this position.

"In addition a part-time locum Clinical Psychologist is due to commence in late March/early April and other additional Psychology resources have been put in place. This will help to address the current waiting time." is awaiting comment from Blackberry care centre.

  • Anyone affected by issues raised in this story can call Samaritans on 116 123 (free call) or text 087 2 60 90 90 (standard text rates apply).
  • The Rape Crisis Centre is also available on their 24 Hour Helpline on 1800 778888

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