Friday, December 04, 2015

Disability Seminar highlights shortfalls

Ireland possibly has the best policies for empowering people with disability in the world — but we fall down in implementing them, writes Rose Barrett O'Donoghue.

That's the view of Christy Lynch, CEO of KARE, outlined in his keynote speech at the Disability Seminar held in Kilcullen's McMahon Centre this week.

He was one of a number of speakers who included Karen Leigh, founder of the Sensational Kids organisation; Noireen Duggan, Principal of Scoil na Naomh Uilig; stroke victim Lisa O'Donoghue; Edel Browne who has worked in the area of Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus and has a son with Nephrotic Syndrome; and Gerry Maguire, author of 'Walk Away & Forget Him', who has lived successfully with Spina Bifida.

Christy Lynch said the Government needs to shift from the previous 'value for money' approach and focus on citizenship, individual needs, and a person with disability's right to have self-determination in their future.

Karen Leigh outlined the major shortfall in educational support services for children with special needs, and the necessity for further training of teachers in mainstream classes. When she found no occupational therapy facilities available for her son with dyspraxia, she founded an organisation that raised €100,000 and now provides the Sensational Kids centre that offers accessible and speedy service to families all over the country.

Noirin Duggan expressed her 'dismay' at the lack of services in school administration and the need for additional training for teachers in mainstream schools. She acknowledged that the integration of SNUs with mainstream classrooms has resulted in better integration of pupils from both areas. Edel Browne Curran outlined the lack of services for people with kidney problems, in particular the shortage of paediatric urologists. Gerry Maguire detailed his battle with his spina bifida, school bullying, alcohol dependancy, and finally coming to terms with his condition and making a full life for himself.

Cllr Fiona O'Loughlin, who works with Special Omympics, criticised what she called the 'dismantling' by the present Government of the system of automatic entitlement for special education support, a system pioneered by Fianna Fail. "We need to apply the policies defined in the Epsen Act to have each and every child receive the tuition he or she needs to reach full potential," she said.

Pictured above by Pat Tinsley are (front) Gerry Maguire, Ch SBHI Dublin; Cllr Fiona O’Loughlin who hosted the event; and Lisa O’Donoghue of Manor Kilbride; and (back) NoirĂ­n Duggan, Principal Scoil na Naomh Uilig; Karen Leigh, CEO and founder of Sensational Kids; Edel Browne Curran, who spoke on Urology and the lack to medical services for children with rare conditions; and Christy Lynch, CEO KARE who facilitated the event.