'A huge lack of humanity' – Parents call on Government to re-open special needs schools

Parents willing to do 'whatever it takes' to access special education for their children, including taking legal proceedings
'A huge lack of humanity' – Parents call on Government to re-open special needs schools

Miriam Jennings from Galway said there were many other parents in a similar situation to her who would be willing to do 'whatever it takes' to access what their families needed. File picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

A mother of twin boys with autism and intellectual disabilities has said delaying the return of special education is having a profound negative impact on affected children and families.

She said legal proceedings may need to be taken if the situation was not resolved soon.  

Miriam Jennings from Galway has two sons who go to separate special schools in the city.

One of her sons attends a school for children with severe to profound intellectual disabilities, while the other attends a school for children with additional needs and mild disabilities.

Speaking to Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1 Ms Jennings said her family was feeling very “low” last night upon hearing the news that the Government had abandoned a plan to reopen schools for children with special needs.

'We are living hour to hour, that is no exaggeration'.

My son has deteriorated so much, my son with severe autism, he needs his programmes, he needs his school.

She said her son, who does not have any understanding of why he cannot access his normal educational routines, had deteriorated both in terms of his behaviour, and medically.

Ms Jennings said her family could “pull from empty” when there was a school reopening date scheduled – originally, schools were to reopen on Thursday – but she said the decision to keep them closed came as a huge blow to her and her family.

"I'm not quite sure where we’re going to pull from now.

I drove around Galway with him banging his head off the windows and off the inside of the car.

"He’s four stone heavier than me at this stage, and he’s trying to attack me when I’m driving," she said.

She described the situation around the re-opening of special schools as "absolutely unbelievable" and said there had been "a huge lack of humanity and a genuine understanding" shown towards parents of children with special needs.

She said she was in contact with teachers and SNAs who would be happy to go to work and teach children like her sons, but that the voices of these educators were not being heard.

“There’s no such thing as no-risk. We all know that.

We know we are living in a pandemic, but we are living in a crisis within the pandemic.

“We are living in an absolute mode of survival.” 

Ms Jennings said there were many other parents in a similar situation to her who would be willing to do "whatever it takes" to access what their families needed.

Ms Jennings said legal proceedings around the delay, first issued on Monday, would now be continuing. 

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