The mother of a man with Asperger syndrome, who was jailed for assaulting her, is pleading for short-term residential treatment for her son when he is released from prison next week.
Phyl Mangan said her son, Gary Walton, aged 33, has nowhere to go when he leaves Cork Prison. She has called on the HSE to provide him with suitable accommodation. Ms Mangan is not in a position to bring her son home over fears for her family’s safety.
On December 22, Mr Walton, who had his arm in a cast at the time, knocked his mother to the ground in Heaton’s store, Ballincollig, Co Cork, and kicked her in the head.
During a subsequent court case, Ms Mangan told the judge she wished to withdraw her complaint in the hope that he would direct for her son to be put into residential medical treatment.
The judge said he could not make such an order. Gary, of 22 Westgate Park, Bishopstown, was given a four-month jail sentence for assaulting his mother.
Ms Mangan said she has fought for years to get help for him. She said he suffered a number of traumas during childhood, including losing his best friend in a motorcycle accident at age 17, after which he became reclusive.
At age 26, a Christian organisation, Cork Church, accommodated him in a house in Ringaskiddy with other young people, but that house was put up for sale last year.
At 28, Gary was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome by Michael Fitzgerald, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry and a leading specialist in autism spectrum disorder.
Prof Fitzgerald described him as having “problems with social know-how, problems mixing”.
“He is quite anxious and depressed and has never been treated in a formal way for his condition,” he said.
Prof Fitzgerald was supportive of attempts by Ms Mangan to get her son a place in Nua Healthcare, a private company that has contracts with the HSE to provide residential care for those with complex needs. Mr Walton’s GP also said she believes residential care “would be of significant benefit to Gary”. However, his mother said that while Nua Healthcare previously accepted her son for placement, the HSE was not prepared to fund it.
The HSE said the “appropriate service locally” for adults with ASD is Aspect, a supportive service for adults with Asperger’s.
“Residential placements for adults with ASD are unusual, and would only be offered after assessments by our services deem it absolutely necessary,” it said.
They said a residential placement can only be offered ‘on need’ and following a clinical assessment.
Ms Mangan said her son will be homeless from next Wednesday.
“Gary has been ringing me, crying. He doesn’t have an address that he can give to the prison service. They are talking about putting him in a homeless hostel. My son is now afraid to leave prison.”
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