Children with special needs need support
Sir, – The effective abandonment of children with special needs and their families has been one of the most regrettable aspects of the State’s response to Covid-19. Services which were minimal to begin with have essentially ground to a complete halt.
Much fanfare greeted the rollout of an amended July provision. Unfortunately the reality on the ground is that many schools have been unable to provide this service due to lack of support and guidance from the Department of Education. These children who are already isolated in normal times have become further isolated through what at best could be described as indifference by those charged with supporting schools and service providers.
For too long the provision of services to children with differing needs in Ireland has been seen as an act of charity for which recipients should be grateful. Children with special needs are entitled to an education and the provision of basic services such as physical, speech and occupational therapy should be viewed as a right not a gift.
The isolation many in the general population have experienced as a result of Covid unfortunately is the default existence of children with special needs in normal times.
These children need to be provided with the support to allow them play as full a part in their community as possible.
Without the necessary support they face a lifetime of isolation and neglect. The response of the State to date sadly shows that their needs remain very low on the list of priorities. – Yours, etc,