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Thursday 12 December 2019

Wish Barry happy birthday by sending him a card

Sharon Connolly with Barry, who turns 30 on Thursday. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
Sharon Connolly with Barry, who turns 30 on Thursday. Photo: Seamus Farrelly

The mother of a young autistic man, who she was told to lock in a room and forget about, is asking the public to send him cards on his 30th birthday later this week.

Sharon Connolly fears her son Barry, who adores opening cards, will only get two on Thursday when he celebrates his milestone big day.

Barry, from Ballivor, Co Meath, loves receiving cards in the post and spends hours pouring over their verses and where they came from.

Sharon says he does not want a fuss for his birthday, but she knows he would love to see a load of cards dropping through the letterbox.

Barry has come a long way since Sharon and his dad, Seamus, were once told to lock him in a room and forget about him when he was diagnosed with autism.

Sharon spends two hours a day driving him into Praxis Care in Navan which has boosted his independence with two jobs at the Ardboyne Hotel and in St Vincent de Paul.

Tests

Barry's parents are constantly campaigning for more services for adults with autism.

"When Barry was not speaking at two years of age, he was sent for a range of tests and eventually diagnosed with autism," Sharon said.

"No one really knew about autism back then. We met with a psychologist who told us that our baby would never amount to anything.

"We were told bluntly to lock our two-year-old son in a room and forget about him. We were told he'd never be toilet-trained, never talk and never progress.

"But today, with the help of Praxis Care, to which he loves going, he works in the Ardboyne Hotel one day a week.

"He also works in St Vincent de Paul furniture shop one day a week. He feels so proud and so important with those little jobs.

"He turns 30 on Thursday, but he doesn't want a fuss, no party or cake because he doesn't like noise. He does love getting cards, though.

"You can send a card to Barry Connolly, Carranstown, Ballivor, Co Meath, if you have the time."

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