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Gaps in HSE supports putting futures of children with speech problems at risk

Figures released this week reveal there are eleven HSE areas that have no early intervention teams at all.

Image: child image via Shutterstock

CHILDREN’S CHARITY BARNARDOS has said gaps in HSE early intervention supports for children with speech and language problems are putting their futures at risk.

Figures released this week to Fianna Fáil’s Colm Keaveney show that there are a total of 58 early intervention teams dealing with 6,399 children across the country. There are eleven HSE areas that have no teams at all.

Across the country there are 1,940 children who have been waiting over a year to be assessed for speech and language problems and 2,983 children 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. The waiting lists are highest in the south of the country.

“When we are talking about essential supports that will allow a child to fulfil their potential, the wait is not just an irritation but potentially life-limiting,” Fergus Finlay, CEO of Barnardos said today.

It is not surprising to discover that if a child is delayed in speech and language, or motor skills, and this delay is not even assessed – let alone addressed – by the time they are four, they will be at a very great disadvantage when they start school.

Colm Keaveney said 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,” he said.

Read: Children’s services “need more prevention and early intervention”>

Read: Government accused of “pretending to support” Down syndrome support bill>

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