'He set fire to my microwave. He's eaten the cupboards.' Mother pleas for help for autistic son

A mother has made an emotional plea for respite care for her autistic son whose condition, and the lack of help she has received, has caused her to make an attempt on her own life.

Mary (surname withheld) said her seven-year-old son, who is intellectually disabled and has autism, is a constant flight risk and that caring for him is a 24-hour job.

She told Joe Duffy on RTE's Liveline that when dealing with someone on the autism spectrum, "every day is different. You don't know what you're getting."

The mother, in her 30s, shares a room with both her autistic son and his twin brother in the three bedroom house, along with Mary's other two children.

She said she has received little to no support for her son and efforts have constantly fallen through. Her son had been attending a creche but the staff were unable to provide the care he needs.

"There's meetings called, there's promises made, recommendations made, but that's basically what you get, it usually falls through."

He has destroyed, more or less, my whole house. He's eaten the wall, he's eaten the cupboards, he's pulled the cupboard presses off, he's escaped out windows upstairs.

"My own mental health has deteriorated significantly since Christmas due to this difficulty I have with accessing respite support.

"I made an attempt at my own life the weekend before, due to it reaching breaking point."

Mary said has to sleep with one eye open because of how much her son is a danger to himself and others.

"He has an obsession with medicine, so I keep my medicine in my car. Even things like household cleaners, Joe, he's opened them and drank them."

Mary said she was told by the council that she wouldn't be offered a mortgage even though her current housing arrangements are unsuitable, because the care she was giving her son was not counted as "real work".

The council offered her a house last year but she had to refuse as the only way to heat it would be through a back boiler and she said it would be a risk for her child who has no sense of danger.

"It's like the ones with the power, it's like it's coming out of their own pocket. I want to be able to function as an adult.

I went back, I got a degree in Chemistry, I wanted to go out and get a career and give back and pay my taxes and be a part of society and get my house and be a good influence on my children and everything and I know I can't do that now.

"That's gone. I wouldn't be able to work a nine to five if I'm up every night at one o'clock."

Mary added that she fears the more she gets older, the less she will able to cope as he reaches adolescence.

"I want to be his mom. I'm always going to be his mom, sorry, but I want to be able to mother him for as long as possible at home and the way things are going, I can't."


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