A worried Dublin mum has launched a desperate bid to secure a speech therapist for her daughter who she fears will be bullied if she doesn't get help.
Linda Malone, from Killinarden, Tallaght has been waiting over three years for her five year-old daughter Alanna to given speech and language therapy -- and she is one of 180 children awaiting treatment from the HSE in the Killinarden area.
Alanna was diagnosed with a severe phonological disorder last March and her parents were told that she needed immediate speech and language therapy.
However, almost six months later, Alanna's condition is getting worse because she has not received the care.
"She needs speech therapy and they've been saying for the last three years that she's next on the list. She has a phonological disorder where she's missing her f's and c's. She'll call a 'cat' a 'hat'." Linda fears Alanna is becoming introverted and alienated from her friends since she is not able to socialise.
"Alanna wouldn't talk to other kids or groups. When she's with them she'll whisper. It's the socialising, she's not able for it and the other kids say what is she saying. My fear is that she'll be bullied or left out. As she's getting older she should be mixing," said Linda.
"I want her to play with my nieces and nephews but she's very quiet and hard to understand. She can have big temper tantrums because we can't understand her."
A HSE spokeswoman confirmed that there were 49 children awaiting treatment, while a further 136 were awaiting assessment. She said: "We are reviewing the waiting lists. This also involves managing the impact of vacancies, lost posts and the re-configuration of staff that are located in various sites.
"Where appropriate, children have access to both group and individual therapy in school and home programmes.
"A drop-in service for parents is also available in Millbrook Lawns Health Centre for advice."
Meanwhile, Linda is waiting for the HSE to confirm that Alanna will be given an appointment next month. She stressed: "If she doesn't get help now, she could end up having problems with reading and writing because she can't put on paper what's in her head."