- John Curran T.D. has said the Government’s proposals on in-school speech and language therapy that is to be introduced as a ‘demonstration project’ in Dublin Mid-West for the 2018/19 school year must tackle the ever increasing waiting lists.
Deputy Curran was commenting after receiving a reply from Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton on the issue; “For years now, children have not been getting the speech and language and occupational therapy needed from the State. This is resulting in long delays for initial assessments and access to essential therapy.
“The proposals announced by the Government are a start and I welcome that this ‘Demonstration’ project has chosen 28 pre-schools, 8 primary schools and 2 post-primary schools across Clondalkin, Lucan and Palmerstown to be included.
“However, they may have little or no impact on the massive and increasing waiting lists for children needing speech, language and occupational therapy.
Figures obtained by Fianna Fáil in June 2018 show that in CHO7 Dublin South West 754 patients were waiting for an initial assessment, an increase of 253 in one year. 387 were waiting for their initial therapy, an increase of 115 in one year and 842 patients were waiting for further speech and language therapy. The majority of these patients are children.
Deputy Curran said, “These figures are concerning and show that improving access to Speech and Language Therapy cannot come sooner for some children and their families. In total there are 22,868 children waiting for speech and language services across the country, 1,300 of those have been waiting over a year.”
“A wait of over a year for a child is simply unacceptable and early intervention is critical for children to support their development. If you consider that the early years are from birth to the age of six, then to have to wait over a year or two for treatment is very damaging.
“The integration of Speech and Language Therapists and other therapists in pre-schools and schools, working one on one with children is a real alternative necessary for the children who need it, so as they can fulfil their full potential in school and in life. Tackling these waiting lists must be a priority for our children.” concluded Deputy Curran.