Alannah’s Story

Concern was first raised for Alannah when she started school at age four. She was referred to the HSE for a disability assessment.

Various assessments and interventions were conducted over the next year. At the end of the process it was acknowledged Alannah had significant and persistent emotional behavioural difficulties but an autism diagnosis was ruled out and Alannah was referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for further assessment.

CAMHS rejected the referral and Alannah’s parents were told she did not have mental health needs. Two years had now passed, Alannah was six years old and struggling more than ever.

Thankfully she had great advocates behind her, between her parents, her school and now Barnardos. The school principal sent a report to CAMHS and Alannah’s parents requested her GP make another referral to CAMHS.

Finally, Alannah was seen by CAMHS and she was diagnosed with ADHD, family psychological support was recommended but no date was given as to when this would start and Alannah was placed on a waiting list.

Six months after the ADHD diagnosis and without receiving any support, CAMHS recommended that Alannah be re-referred to disability services for assessment in relation to a possible diagnosis of autism.

Three years after being told their daughter did not have autism and after being bounced around various services, Alannah’s parents were being sent straight back to the start.

Alannah’s mother described it as “It’s like a game of snakes and ladders and we’ve just slid back down to the start.”

Alannah is now eight years old and is no closer to receiving the support she needs. Meanwhile her childhood has been stunted for three years. Her parents are exhausted and despair for her future. Barnardos worked with Alannah and her family.