07 Aug 2022

HSE consents to orders brought by three brothers with suspected autism

The High Court dismissed the doctor’s challenge

The High Court in Dublin

The HSE has consented to orders requiring it to complete an assessment of the health and educational needs of three siblings with suspected autism within eight weeks.

Late last year the children's mother brought High Court proceedings against the HSE seeking the orders.

It was claimed that an application to have the children's needs assessed by the HSE was submitted in late March 2018.

In each of the three brother's cases that process did not commence.

Their mother claimed that if her three sons don't get the appropriate resources to meet the needs of their suspected conditions their development may be permanently affected.

In their actions, they claimed that under the 2005 Disability Act a child's assessment must start within three months from when the completed application form is received by the HSE.

The children, represented by Feichin McDonagh SC, Brendan Hennessy Bl instructed by solicitor John Rogers, claimed the HSE was guilty of undue and excessive delays in considering the three boy's applications for assessment of their needs.

Permission to bring judicial review proceedings against the HSE was granted on an ex parte basis in December.

When the matter returned before the court Mr Justice Seamus Noonan was told the HSE had consented in the case of each of the three children directing the HSE to complete the application for an Assessment of Need under section 9 (5) of the Disability Act.

As part of the agreement between the parties, the assessments are to be completed within eight weeks.

The children's claims for damages, including aggravated damages for an alleged breach of duty the violation of their rights, remains in being has been adjourned for three weeks.

Their cases are among dozens of similar High Court proceedings brought against the HSE on behalf of young children arising out of alleged lengthy delays in having their needs assessed.

The High Court heard that the eldest of the three brothers was diagnosed as having global developmental and speech and language difficulties in 2017.

In the three years before the eldest boy was formally diagnosed with those conditions, he received a total of eight hours of speech therapy.

Since he was diagnosed he has had no treatment other than a meeting with a specialist liaison nurse dealing with children with autism, it was claimed.

The second boy has not been formally diagnosed but a public health nurse has noted that he had both global development and speech and language delays.

The children's mother is concerned that he has been showing many of the signs of autism.

The youngest boy has been referred for early intervention because a public health nurse had concerns given the family history.

It is claimed the youngest sibling is also showing signs of autism and has communication problems.  

The lack of formal diagnoses coupled the delays have resulted in the children being unable to secure places in schools or playschools with specialist autism units, the mother also alleges.

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