herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

I fear for the lives of my four autistic boys without a proper home -- mum

A desperate mum caring for four young children with autism is pleading for help.

Eileen O'Toole's four boys Dylan (10), Adam (9), Eric (6), and EJ (3) all have autism, as well as a range of other disorders like secondary ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and sensory processing disorder.

The family is undergoing tests at Our Lady's Hospital, Crumlin to discover if their behavioural problems are genetic.

But the worried 30-year-old claims her children have no quality of life because they are forced to live their lives cooped up inside their council home in Greystones, Co Wicklow.

"Having a garden alone would solve a lot of problems. The garden at the moment is 14ft long. At the back of the house there's no drainage, so the water sits in it and they can't go there.

"The main thing is that when they get out into the open space they just run. They've escaped before -- Adam has actually gotten two miles away before. And it's very dangerous in Greystones with the main roads and the beaches."

All of Eileen's children have some trouble with social interaction, and she cannot allow them to play freely in playgrounds, parks or public spaces.

She explained: "EJ escapes sometimes, and he doesn't talk so if he got out he wouldn't be able to tell people where he's from." The four boys require constant supervision because of the stairs in their home, where they have hurt themselves.

"When Adam walks, he falls over constantly, even when he's walking up steps. I'm scared that if I'm looking after the others, he's going to fall.

"I just want a house where they can be little boys. You wouldn't coop a dog up in its kennel, you'd let it run around every day."

Eileen and her husband Michael have been pleading with Wicklow County Council to house them in a rural area, in a house which has a garden and no stairs.

Adam and Dylan love singing, while Eric loves computers, and EJ loves Fireman Sam, but Eileen longs for them have constant access to fresh air.

"It isn't the easiest. To get one of them out the door is hard enough, and to arrange for four boys to go out is not simple.

"Our biggest problem is the children can't be children, and they can't run around and run off steam, and just be boys."

"Other children can be very cruel to our kids, so we'd like something away from an estate."

hnews@herald.ie

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