Two autistic five-year-old children face a 86km round trip each day to be pre schooled.
Lucy and George Cannon from Dunshaughlin board a bus at 8.30 every morning, to Carlanstown at the opposite end of the county, and return home at 2.30 each afternoon.
They make the long journey despite two schools much closer to home being funded last year to host classes for those with autism spectrum disorder, (ASD).
Now their furious mother Gráinne has written to education minister Norma Foley and Josepha Madigan. Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion pleading for help to ensure they don’t face the same trek when they begin primary school next September.
In an emotional email she wrote, ‘George and Lucy were diagnosed with Autism requiring level 3 support and Global Developmental Delay in Sept 2021.
‘They currently attend an ASD pre-school in Carlanstown, Kells, Co. Meath (43KM from our home). I am very happy to say that they are both thriving and we are incredibly proud of them.
‘Since their diagnosis, I have been actively trying to secure places for them in an ASD class attached to a mainstream school, mindful of the fact that we will require 2 places
‘However, this task is becoming impossible. In Dunshaughlin, there are three primary schools: ONE of which has an ASD class, where there is one place with the possibility of a second.
‘Over the course of our application process, I have discovered, to my horror, that two schools (Ratoath Junior & Rathbeggan) were granted funding for ASD classes last year and will not be in a position to open this September. These schools are within a 10-mile radius of our home!
‘I’m sure you are aware of this situation, but I wanted to make you aware of how serious and grave the situation is for us. I am aware that building classes takes a lot of time & effort, but surely temporary facilities can be arranged? ‘
Gráinne is adamant she doesn’t want the twins travelling any more once they enter primary, she said, ‘ The two local schools received funding last September but they either have to build new classrooms or refurbish what they have and that takes time, and unfortunately time is against us.
‘God only knows when they will start work on them never mind have them finished but I suspect George and Lucy will be finished school by then.
‘I honestly don’t want them travelling that distance any longer, doing it for a year is fine, even though as you can imagine it is really tough on five-year-olds, but enough is enough.
‘I have been down every road, and explored every avenue with this, writing to the ministers is my last throw of the dice, if they can’t help, I don’t know what we’ll do.’