Saturday 16 December 2017

They are the voiceless - let's give them their voice

Speech is key to friendship, to love, to independence, to freedom. Let's not deny tens of thousands their voice, writes Brendan O'Connor

'The last thing these parents and these children need is to be abandoned by the State. They have enough to be coping with'. (Stock photo)
'The last thing these parents and these children need is to be abandoned by the State. They have enough to be coping with'. (Stock photo)
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

There were a few common threads to the emails I got from parents - overwhelmingly mothers - after I brought up on the Late Late last week the issue of the shocking lack of speech and language therapy in this country. They were glad that someone managed to mention it on TV, however cack-handedly. They were also furious about the lack of services for their loved ones, whether that be a father who has had a stroke and was waiting for some therapy to learn to speak again or children, for whom that early intervention window, that time when children hoover up new things, was running out while they waited sometimes years for therapy.

Another thread that ran through emails was the fact that these people are too busy surviving and trying to look after their kids or their loved ones to go out and protest, to make noise.

They are, if you like, the opposite of older people. Governments are careful about upsetting old people, cognisant that older people tend to have time on their hands and free travel. Children with disabilities and their families can tend to be invisible, because they have neither the time nor the inclination to take to the streets.

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