Mother left in limbo over services for autistic child

By Maurice Garvey

A CHANGE to the provision of psychiatric services has left a mother in a quandary, unable to access a vital psychiatric assessment for her son.

Lisa Coleman, a Clondalkin resident, is the mother of Mason (10), who is autistic.

Lisa Coleman new 2

Lisa Coleman with her son Mason

She is worried her son’s anxiety is escalating, leading to increased behavioural issues at school and at home.

Mason has attended Beechpark Services in Stillorgan since he was two years old.

In February, Lisa requested a psychiatric assessment for Mason, but was told the waiting list for Beechpark psychiatry has been closed due to “lack of resources and forthcoming reconfiguration of services.”

She was advised to go to her GP and apply to her local Child And Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Cherry Orchard Hospital.

However, CAMHS say the referral does not meet criteria as Mason is already linked with Beechpark.

This has led to Lisa going back and forth between the two services over the last four months.

She has tried to contact Professor Brendan Doody in CAHMS – whom she believes can make a decision – but did not speak to him in person as he was at “meetings or on holidays”.

“I have to bring Mason to A&E because there is nowhere else to go, due to his anxiety and a rash he has been getting,” said Lisa.

Sits in a corner and cries

“That is why I’m looking to get a psychiatric assessment. He could be allergic – it is getting more severe. When he goes into school, he just sits in a corner and cries. It is a form of torture.

“I’ve asked CAHMS ‘what will it take to accept my son’ and they asked me for his files. I went off and got them, but they never needed the files. It was just another delay tactic. The woman who asked for them is now on holidays.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Mark Ward, who has been asking the HSE questions on behalf of Ms Coleman, slammed the situation as “a bureaucratic mess in the HSE.”

Cllr Ward said: “In the meantime a young boy is not getting his needs met which are vital to his development. This brings further implications for family life.

“It is unacceptable and I am calling on the HSE to provide the duty of care to this young boy and his family.”

Lisa cannot afford to take Mason out of Beechpark, because they provide vital respite and home-help services.

“Without that twice-a-week help, the two us would be found in the canal,” said Lisa.

“Mason needs a psychiatric assessment as a matter of urgency due to ongoing issues at home and school. I worry what will happen when he finishes school at the end of June.

 “I have spoken to over 20 people. The Health Minister said they couldn’t intervene. Mason is in a special school with amazing support from teachers. He is getting bigger and stronger and needs intervention now before it comes to a stage where the school cannot manage his behaviour.

“The school also sent in an urgent referral to CAHMS but were also told no, because Mason is with Beechpark Services. I need answers.”

The Echo contacted the HSE in relation to Ms Coleman’s concerns, but did not receive a reply at the time of going to print.

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