Concerns about new diagnostic tool for children with disabilities

HSE Clondalkin Tallaght

Mark Ward TD is concerned that the new standard operating procedure that is the replacement tool for the Assessment of Needs used to identify the physical and mental health needs of children could lead to parents being unable to access educational resources in schools and  special needs assistants. It also could cause difficulties for parents claiming disability allowances .

Teachta Ward said: “Recently the HSE moved from a comprehensive Assessment of Need diagnostic tool to using a desk top Standard Operating Procedure method to identify the health needs of a child.

“At the time of this change I challenged Minister Anne Rabbitte and said that this could be just a box ticking exercise aimed at  fulfilling the Governments requirements under the disability act.

“The last interaction I had with the Minister was when I expressed my concerns about the lack of data coming out of the HSE to inform us if this is the case or if the standard operating procedure is working like the Government claimed it will.

“ Recently I  made representations on behalf of the parents of a child with disabilities  to the HSE and  I am really concerned with the response I received.

The HSE stated that the  new standard operating procedure  that replaced the assessment of needs, does  not provide a diagnostic assessment, and is solely focused on determining whether a child meets the criteria for disability service and identifying their health needs.

“On paper the Government are fulfilling their obligations under the disability act but, children with disabilities and their parents could be left to suffer.

“A proper diagnostic work up, takes time and resources which the Government have never properly provided to Assessment of Needs. That is why we have such long waiting lists.

“My concerns are that no diagnosis  could mean that parents can’t access educational resources in schools or  special needs assistant for their children. It also could cause difficulties for parents claiming disability allowances .

“So many supports are dependent upon a diagnosis – autism specific classes, July provision Programme, resource teaching hours, assistive technology issues, reasonable accommodations for exams. The list is endless.

“I have written to Minister Anne Rabbitte and asked for assurances that the new standard operating procedure does not detrimentally impact the needs of children with disabilities and their parents.

“Because from what I can see we now have  an assessment to conclude that the child needs an assessment and that children are being moved from list to list without getting the intervention that they need.

Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks

Sarah has worked in marketing and content creation for many years. In her role at Newsgroup, she is the online editor of with a particular interest in local news and events. Sarah also works closely with our editorial team on our printed editions in Tallaght, Lucan, Clondalkin and Rathcoole/Saggart. If you have a story and would like to make contact please email Sarah at



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