Mothers of local children with autism slam the HSE waiting times

By Claire Christensen

TWO mothers of autistic children are speaking out about the exorbitant waiting times in the HSE for autism diagnosis and therapy, saying, “The HSE need to apply better services and time frames for the waiting lists – the lack of services are having such a detrimental impact on our children’s lives”.

The mothers, Amanda Biddulph from Lucan, and Tanya Lieghio from Kilnamanagh, both resorted to paying for private diagnoses for their young boys Leo and Max.

Autistic parents collage 31072017

The HSE system includes a three-month window for assessment and another three-month window for diagnosis; if the time frame is exceeded, a complaints process must be started, which can take even more time.

Leo was on the HSE waiting list for eight months before Amanda gave up and paid for a private diagnosis, which she points out was “a diagnosis that the HSE wasn’t able to give, but was able to accept”.

Leo is six-years-old, and does well academically in a mainstream school, but is easily overwhelmed by his surroundings and senses.

Amanda told The Echo: “Leo has had his occupational and speech therapies, but we’re still waiting on psychology, which is what he needs most, since he has such bad anxiety.

“It’s horrific, having to wait so long, when the HSE says intervention isn’t worthwhile after six years old.

“How can they say that when the waiting lists are so long, when they have no funding for diagnoses?”

Tanya’s son Max is non-verbal at almost four years old and attends a private pre-school for children with autism in Inchicore.

Max was 13 months old when Tanya first noticed something was wrong, but she was told that while he showed all the signs of being on the spectrum, he was too young to be diagnosed.

Tanya said: “Max was in hospital briefly when he was one year, and the doctors think the change in routine triggered the non-verbal part of his autism – he went in with words and left without them.

“People look at autistic children like there’s something wrong with them— I see people staring, making comments.”

The mothers hope that by sharing their stories, more people will become aware of the challenges faced.

The Echo contacted the HSE but did not receive a reply before going to print.

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