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Shortly after Daniel started big school, the teachers called his parents in because they were concerned about his behaviour – he rarely made eye contact, had difficulty following instructions and was very restless.
The school principal then referred Daniel to undergo an Assessment of Need to determine whether he had a disability and what his resulting needs would be. The assessment process was quick– over the next six months Daniel saw a psychologist, an occupational therapist, a speech and language therapist and a physiotherapist – he was ultimately diagnosed with Autism.
However after receiving his diagnosis, there was no recommendation for further services or supports. Daniel continued to struggle socially, the school had a special resource teacher who provided some supports but other than that his parents were left to manage Daniel’s condition on their own.
When Daniel was seven years old he began to speak about killing himself.
His parents contacted the School Age Development Service in the HSE and were initially told this wasn’t their area. Daniel’s parents persisted – even physically going down to the offices of the service demanding to speak with a psychologist. When they eventually spoke with a psychologist, Daniel’s parents felt they were very dismissive and unhelpful. Finally, Daniel was referred to a psychiatrist.
Daniel’s parents were finding it hard to cope. His school suggested they arrange for some private play therapy sessions and also contact Barnardos. Barnardos provided them with practical parenting support which focused on strengthening their relationship with Daniel.
Between Barnardos, the play therapist and the resource teacher in school Daniel’s parents feel he is finally getting some support. They have noticed an improvement in his mood, behaviour and general wellbeing.
Daniel’s parents are relieved and grateful he was able to access these supports when he did; but they feel strongly that they shouldn’t have to pay for private therapies or rely on charity services to provide support and care which should be available from the public health system – especially when a child is in a crisis.
Barnardos worked with Daniel and his family.