167 people signed the petition since March 24, 2015

Change the way special needs services are delivered to children in schools

Like many parents of special needs children the decision to send our children to a special school was a difficult and heart wrenching one. It meant we gave up on the dream of them leading a normal life, we separate them from neighbouring children their own age that we had hoped they would be friends with, we drive them miles out of our own community. Why would you do that, you ask? Because we brought them to a school which had speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and psychology from a team of professionals based at the school. Our Children require these critical services to reach their full potential and enable them to live a full and happy life. It was working reasonably well up till October 2013. When the government reconfigured children’s services in Kerry in October 2013 without adding any extra resources this all changed. They took the therapists out of the school and based them 40 miles away serving a massive area and number of children. Therapy service is now spread so thin that it is useless. Children who have waited 2 years to see a speech therapist have been seen twice, issued with an assessment and no further plans to be seen. This lack of intervention by therapists has affected the children’s ability to access their education. In Article 23 of the UN convention of children’s rights - Children with a physical disability or learning difficulty have the right to special care, education and training designed to help them to achieve the greatest possible self-reliance and to lead a full, active life in society. The government, in reducing our children’s therapy services, are destroying their quality of life, their chance of reaching their full potential and contravening their human rights. Children’s disability services have always been completely insufficient in this country with parents forced to fight for therapies that should be a child’s right. This has to change. The present system of delivering the disability services from the HSE, dependant on resources available, is failing our children and impeding their right to an education. We want the number of therapists provided to be based on the needs of all children in a school/locality. We also want the disability services to be provided by the Department of Education as the therapies are an intrinsic part of a special needs education.

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