Irish Examiner View: Action on autism

Thousands of children waiting over 19 months for healthcare assessments.
Irish Examiner View: Action on autism
More than 5,000 children are waiting over 19 months for a healthcare assessment: Picture: PA

More than 5,000 children are waiting up to 19 months to be assessed for public health services even though the law says they should be seen within six months. 

Any delay in getting appropriate healthcare is detrimental, but for these children, it is catastrophic, because it means they may not reach their full potential.

In a number of cases, children are waiting three or four years which, as Children’s Rights Alliance chief executive Tanya Ward said, can feel like a lifetime. 

As the families at breaking point fear, the effect of those delays can also last for a lifetime.

If a child with additional needs, such as autism or communication difficulties, is denied an assessment, that child is also denied access to the services that could transform their lives.

In the Dáil yesterday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar acknowledged the delays and the stress they cause to children and their families. 

He also acknowledged that earlier intervention leads to better outcomes. He said reforms are under way but did not give a timeframe. 

The children — and their parents  — deserve one.

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