by Bronagh Loughlin
Sharon Connolly, a Ballivor based Mum of a thirty one year old man who suffers from autism has voiced her frustrations over the fact that her son’s day-care service has not yet returned and has revealed she has given up trying to get politicians to help.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, her son, Barry, has had additional supports taken away from him something that is having its toll on both the family and on Barry.
Sharon told Meath Live, “At the beginning of March, the day service based in Navan had to close immediately due to COVID. We were given no indication of what was going to happen or how our children were going to be accommodated. It was like Barry was completely forgotten about, not a phone call or email or any contact until August.”
“In August, his key worker started coming out on Wednesdays and Thursdays for 5 hours, 9.30-2.30, so since August he is getting 10 hours per week which is used to bring him swimming, walking, library and gym”.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Barry was entitled to receive 20 to 25 hours per week of additional support in the form of his day-care services.
Sharon explains, “I feel at this stage that Barry has been completely forgotten about, He is autistic, he needs routine, he needs to get back in the community to see and talk to people, he had his little jobs pre covid, which made him feel important, now he has nothing to work at, he has sat so much in his room in the last 5 months playing his PlayStation, eating more, putting on weight, I could keep going but I am tired, I am fed up, I need a break.”
“Barry is the easiest person to live with but it is so unfair that schools, colleges, pubs, hotels are all open and day services aren’t.”
Sharon told Meath Live that there are 10 adults with autism who attend Barry’s day-care centre and the service has not considered operating as schools and colleges are with masks, visors and social distancing regulations.
She also does not know what is happening with the money that is allocated for Barry’s day-care service and there has been no mention of these funds being used to pay for any outreach services.
Sharon says, “I would love to know where Barry’s funding was used as he was at home from March until August, which is a full 5 months where no money was spent on him.”
The angry mum has not contacted any politicians on the matter after having poor previous experiences.
She explains, “I have not contacted any politician because in the past few years I have contacted politicians over different things to do with Barry and not one helped us in any way so don’t see the point of contacting them again.”
Sharon and her family are becoming increasingly concerned as the Government’s plans to get the country back on track seem to exclude disability services.
“I have not heard one word about disability services when the Government talks about getting the country back on track. How long more will Barry sit at home, parents are at breaking point from exhaustion, I know because I am one of them”.