Parents Of Children With Special Education Needs Feel Kids Are Being Left BehindHighlights from The Pat Kenny Show
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- 1 Mar 2021
While some students have returned to school this morning, parents of children with special education needs feel they’re kids are being left behind. Pat spoke to Carol Lennon, mother of 4 kids with special needs and Lorraine Dempsey Interim CEO Inclusion Ireland.
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The part Kenny show on news talk with Marter private network during current restrictions. Don't ignore your health concerns. Our expert team is ready to help. The phased reopening of schools has begun this morning after a much extended winter break, but not everyone is heading back to their classrooms today. And for those with additional needs, the long periods of time at home can have serious impacts on the line. Now to tell us how it's affected their children's lives. Carol Lennon and Lorraine Dempsey, whose interim CEO of Inclusion Ireland.
Good morning to you both, Carol. We'll start with you.
First of all, you have four children with special needs. I do, yes, and I have three deaths at second level, like secondary level, and two of the three have come back and the terrorism is only enforced here. So he's not due back until the 12th of April. Now, how has the U. He was upset, of course, because the others are going back and I presume he wanted to go back. How has it affected your home life having all this, I suppose, a compression of each other with each other for the last hour while when normally, you know, school would be very much a part of their day?
Very much so.
The routine that we had in school. So everybody gets up at the certain time, the baby eat the same food every day. They leave and they return at the same time every day. And they had something to talk about. So in like when they started on the 12th of March last year, it was great, it was the long weekend that everybody always hoped and dreamed of and assume they wear uniforms, didn't have to be washed. And all the great things that come with the banana bread and the jokes on the telly.
And we did all that really enthusiastically. But now, I mean, the shine has gone on, they don't want to be looking at me, I don't want to be looking at them, they want to be talking to their friends. They don't have the social skills to use effectively the social media. It's just it's crazy. It's it's destroying them and it's destroying the relationships that I have with them, because for the last nine or eight or nine weeks, I have had to be a teacher, you know, and when they go to school, if they don't behave in class or if they don't do their homework, then and when they leave that class, when it's at home, it doesn't.
And it's 24/7, you know, it's horrendous.
So you've got you can't switch from being mother to teacher and back to mother again. It's it's a continual stopped like school.
And for them, I was told you three, 45. And when they come home, then I'm more, you know. No, I mean, I'm a carer, but I more there as well. And I don't blame them for not speaking Irish in their class or their history class or whatever class it is supposed to be. Speak Irishman. And at home it's like do they want. It didn't end. I treated it went on and on. And sometimes I mean the youngest boy, he's 14, was getting so stressed about the baking that he had to do to comply with his home economics class that my husband was coming home from work at seven a.m. I'm starting to make more from their chocolate chip cookies.
They're crazy like me. Crazy.
I mean, it's almost comic. It would be the stuff of a comedy series if it was so serious, except and this is the thing.
So I blogged about it for a while because I thought I need to let people know. I mean, this is my why am I need to be able to speak out loud about this. And I go for it for a while on Facebook. And people were like, oh, come on, tell us more. This is hilarious. I was like, this is not supposed to be like this is not funny. I am literally walking around the house.
I was only of the metre stick to know what I mean. I know corporal punishment in school is no longer the but I was going to buy one for that reason because I thought maybe they would attend to the lessons that if I had to go back and table, you know, what's going on. I mean, in in pictures. So pictures are all from the media of the children at home, being home, school, sitting at the table.
But that's not reality. There was no way I could have had to see them sitting at the same table, want to stay on I to do education through the medium of Irish. Wonderful one to. And you don't have education through the medium of English. It takes you to have nothing in common. We have 18 different classes to attend. We. My goodness, crazy stuff. Well, it'll is a little bit, I suspect, but still you now have the problem of the one boy who would love to be back at school and feels even more hard done by.
He is. And he's missing the social part. He's missing the conversations with friends, you know, and while the teachers are doing all that they can for the homeland and like, it isn't to say it couldn't be replicated in any way. There is very little opportunity for great help for the poor. It's also his feeling that he he has already dropped out of class. He can't do that anymore because the stress and the pressure was too much for him.
So his timetable has been reduced. And I mean, that's not normal. That's not life. That shouldn't be. And how have you been coping with the stress and the pressure on you as mother, teacher, carer, all of this enough is the answer.
And I have spoken to me two days about as I have asked, that they look into getting counselling services for families. But family counsellors, what we need some of the relationships of my children, I would have great relationships with my children. And some of them, I fear, are damaged irreparably because I'm only one person and one person can do the job of five people, you know, and my husband, I mean, he was coming home from work.
He said he was driving components and did not know what most people were going to be and what was doing. What was he doing. You know, in the beginning, as I say, when we heard we were coming out, I prepared schedules and we had instructions for how to use the washing machine. And everybody got really enthusiastic and we all weighed in with Sharon. That momentum didn't last. And I mean, it's definitely long gone now. You know, my daughter who never goes, like, stand still.
I mean, she says every time, says we know this, and now she's bound to never have had an accident or because the fear of being home with me is water and pandemic ever.
Well, I hope you somehow managed to repair your relationship with Karen, but I suspect you will, because you sound like you have a very kind of positive attitude to life one way or the other, given all that you have to put up with.
Yes. Well, I'm hoping that the HSC is going to see the struggle and they're going to implement some support because now we're nearly a year into and terrorists have yet to have a support. We haven't had any. All right, look, Carol, thank you very much for sharing the somewhat chaotic family life that you've had to endure over this last one. Lorraine Dempsey, interim CEO of Inclusion Ireland, is also on the line. I'm listening to that at Lorrain.
I presume it's something similar, but not the same because you don't have four to cope with. You have a daughter with complex disabilities.
Sure. Five, four, four of them in the together. And to have gone out the door this morning. So one is my daughter who's in special school, who's had about five days of special school over the last two weeks, two days on, three days off. So it's been very confusing for her. So she's gone back full time now today, which is wonderful for her because she simply just wasn't really able to cope. And, you know, even being back in school from September to December full time really didn't kind of alleviate any of the issues that arose for her with her behaviour and anxiety for the very first lockdown.
And I have a five year old who has very excitedly run out the door this morning to go back into junior infants. And I have two children at the level. One of them will be going back for two weeks and the other one who's in first year, like her son, she'll be out for 16 and a half weeks by the time she gets back, if that even comes to play. It's interesting listening to Carol about like the direct impact on her own children, you know, not, you know, missing their friends inclusion.
I did a survey already on year and eighty nine percent of children with special educational needs and intellectual disabilities. She's had expressed that they're actually missing their schools and their school and friends. And if you have a cohort of children who can't engage with remote learning that this is what we're really focussing on now, well, then they also can't engage in all the different social media platforms that, you know, I see my teens chatting half the night with their friends.
And so there really are isolated. And that's bringing up a broad range of issues between family relationships and isolation, self harming, you know, behaviour changing behaviour. So it's like what we're really looking at is the children who have been unable to engage in remote learning and they were prioritised above getting full classes back into school today. So for some of these children, particularly those that post primary and Internet, up to six staff, you know, they will have missed out in anywhere between 12 weeks of six and a half weeks of in school provision.
And so there was a decision to make, I suppose it was a political decision to bring back pupils in a staged and controlled manner. But as advocacy organisations, we were looking for those that needed to be back in school the most, getting in the door first. And that's not what's happened today. So is today a day, though, upon which your daughter will finally be in full time education after the dribs and drabs of the last couple of weeks?
Yeah, so she's back full time, you know, and so at least that provides her least it's can you hear me pass? Yeah, yeah.
You're breaking up a bit, but we can still hear you. Carry on, please.
No, we actually have lost Lorraine, but I think we got the message loud and clear from Lorraine that there was a choice to be made and the government made a particular choice, which was to bring back the Leaving CERT students and the people in baby classes and first class and second class so that they could get back into the rhythm of school.
And it would have been better, according to Lorraine, that it was done differently so that the kids with very special needs could have been accommodated for a full time education before this. Anyway, that was Lorraine Dempsey, interim CEO of Inclusion Ireland.