• In March of last year I wrote to the then new Minister for Health, James Reilly. I welcomed him into his new office and wished him all the best. Mine was a very impassioned plea, which went into great detail about all the terrible problems we continue to have here in Kerry with acquiring a diagnosis and any sort of early-intervention services for both children and adults living with an autism spectrum disorder.
Yesterday saw the publication of the ministers' expenses during their first year in office and this led me to wonder what sort of a country are we really living in when a bowl of shamrock presented to Barack Obama cost hundreds of euro, the same amount of money that could have given my son speech therapy for a month.
So as Autism Awareness Month will soon be coming to a close, I decided that now was a good time to write to Dr Reilly again. Maybe I will even find out why he never replied to my last letter.
I am sure there are many parents of special-needs children who shared the frustration I felt yesterday when I heard that Dr Reilly has spent €1.7m on advisers to help him grapple with the many problems the HSE faces.
I immediately wondered if he had spent any of that money on tackling the many bureaucratic issues in relation to autism?
That is the really serious problem for autistic people like me and my son.
Last year, I had hoped that the minister would be very aware of what the problems really are for autistic people, given that he himself has a son who is autistic.
I have also read that the minister previously stated in an interview that his wife was fantastic and never rested in her efforts to do everything she could to help their son.
This time I have told Dr Reilly that too is exactly how I feel about my son Adam. Unfortunately, I never had a diagnosis growing up and had to struggle on as best I could.
Often I wonder what difference it could have made to me if only Asperger's Syndrome had been a diagnosable condition back in my youth. Would I have been able to have the support and help that apparently is out there now?
My suggestion is that if the minister really wants to cut down on his advisory expenses, why not invite me to Dublin and I will tell him for free what the problems are for autistic children and adults in this country and how to tackle them.
In return all I would seek is a token contribution to my son's early-intervention class (www.killahanautismunit.com), to allow the children there to have the many therapies of which there is an inadequate supply in this country.
Mary Kelly Godley
Tarbert, Co Kerry