herald

Friday 6 December 2019

'I'm fuming', says mum over son's eight-month wait for speech therapy

Catriona and Dylan (4) who will have therapy next May
Catriona and Dylan (4) who will have therapy next May

A Dublin mother has slammed the HSE over long waiting times as her son waits for speech therapy.

Catriona Ward, from Tyrrelstown in Dublin 15, is "absolutely fuming" that her son Dylan Ward (4) has to wait until next May to start having speech therapy.

She said that little Dylan has issues with his speech and is afraid that he will get bullied when he starts school next year.

"My older son has autism and Dylan's speech isn't up to par to what it should be for a four-year-old, so I brought him to the doctors and they did all the tests, as I was afraid he might have autism too," she told the Herald.

The tests "came back saying that he doesn't have autism, but speech therapy, occupational therapy (OT) and physio was recommended," Ms Ward said.

"The most important is the speech therapy, as his speech isn't where it should be for a four-year-old.

"He's gotten his physio and his OT, but the HSE said that he will have to wait until May to start the speech therapy."

She now fears that her son will make little progress with his speech in the lead-up to next September, when he is due to start primary school.

Bullied

"I'm afraid he'll get bullied over not talking at school. He's such a friendly child, he loves people and loves giving hugs," said mum Catriona.

"It would be awful if he started school and was bullied over not talking."

Ms Ward has slammed the HSE's handling of the long waiting lists for speech therapy.

"I'm absolutely fuming. It's just me raising Dylan and there's been no communication and the waiting lists are so long, I wasn't notified any step of the way," she said. "I've tried everything, but they told me that I just have to wait.

"I told them that he has to start school, but they can't do anything. It's not good enough."

Local Fianna Fail TD Jack Chambers said that speech therapy waiting times are "a serious issue" across Dublin 15.

"Dublin 15 is a microcosm of the most serious waiting times across the country.

"Children are in desperate need of support in a vacuum of no information and no follow through," he said.

"Some people wait years and some kids are recommended speech therapy and never receive it. We have a dysfunctional community health service and early intervention is non-existent.

"I have made representations to the HSE in regards to Dylan's case and we're awaiting a response."

In a response, the HSE said: "The waiting times for assessment for Speech and Language Therapy in Dublin 15 area is 8-10 months.

"The HSE's objective is that children would have more timely access to the SLT service in Dublin 15 and every effort is being made to try and attain this."

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