Supporting Local News

Parents left waiting for years for vital disability services

Children with disabilities across Galway are waiting years for vital services to help with basic skills such as speaking and moving that will be essential to help them lead more independent lives.

Parents are considering mounting a protest outside the Dáil after being fobbed off constantly by the Health Service Executive about the lack of staff to give speech and language, occupational and behavioural therapy.

Despite releasing a national plan about addressing the lengthy waiting lists across the country in disability services for children and young people – labelled the ‘roadmap for service improvement 2023-2026’ – families have been warned by staff in one Children’s Disability Network Team (CDNT) that there is unlikely to be any changes in the dire lack of support in the short to medium term.

Thomas Lawless said parents of around 600 affected children and youths in the CDNT 7 – those living in Tuam, Loughrea, Athenry and Abbeyknockmoy – are waiting “years and years and years” for an assessment to determine the type of disability and then an assessment of need to help improve their situation. Even if the parent gets that far, they are abandoned.

William Silke said his son Hunter, 8, has been under a team for over two years and has still not undergone a psychological assessment. He had a handful of speech and language sessions but nothing for over six months. An Occupational Therapist has seen him several times which has resulted in a marked improvement in his mobility.

“The Irish State has failed our children at every single step and stage of their development, and in doing so is causing irreparable life-lasting damage,” he fumes.

“Stressed and overwhelmed parents are now being forced to become ‘at-home therapists’, using YouTube, WhatsApp groups or having to go private to figure things out.”

Caption: The Silkes…grandad and Galway Town Crier Liam with his daughter-in-law Crislyn, 13-year-old granddaughter Venice, and eight-year-old grandson Hunter.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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