“SHOCKING” gaps in support for children with disabilities have been blasted by local election candidate Martin McDermott.

New figures were recently supplied by the HSE in reply to Parliamentary Questions.

These show “shocking gaps” in early assessment and support for children with disabilities and special needs right across the country. í¢€Â¨í¢€Â¨í¢€Â¨

“These figures show just how much the State is failing children with special needs,” said Mr Mc Dermott, a community activist for disadvantaged schools and the right to early education for all children. í¢€Â¨í¢€Â¨

“There are glaring gaps in crucial early treatment for children with disabilities, with no Early Intervention Teams in operation in various parts of the country.  This means that instead of getting the early treatment they need, thousands of children in these areas are waiting for years just to get a basic assessment of their difficulties. í¢€Â¨í¢€Â¨

“There are 1,940 children across the country who have been waiting for over a year to be assessed for speech and language problems and 2,983 children who have been waiting over a year for treatment for speech and language difficulties.  

“In addition to this, there are 2,090 children who are waiting for over a year for Occupational Therapy services.”

Mr McDermott is an active supporter of the Donegal County Childcare led ‘Let Me, Be Me Campaign’.

He said: “This is a very dignified campaign involving parents and childcare providers to try and preserve Donegal’s last remaining pre-school for children with complex medical disabilities and lobby for supports for children with special needs in mainstream pre-schools.”í¢€Â¨

He continued, “The whole idea of Early Intervention Teams is to provide assessment and support to children with special needs as soon as their needs become apparent.  Research shows that by identifying a disability at a young age and mapping out an appropriate care plan, a child has a much better chance of quality of life and a much better chance of managing their disability.  But this service is completely crippled by a lack of resources.í¢€Â¨í¢€Â¨

“This comes down to the simple question:  How seriously does the State take its duty of care towards children with special needs? These figures must act as a wake-up call for the Government.  If the Minister for Health James Reilly and Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch truly believe in the need to provide the most basic level of support for children with disabilities, they will intervene now and ensure this crucial service is properly resourced.”

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