HSE set to withdraw in-school Speech and language therapist

Further cuts to Speech and Language services are set to impact those most in need of the support as an in-school Speech and Language therapist in a school for deaf children in Dublin is under threat.

Holy Family Deaf School in Cabra has been told by the HSE that as a result of the rationalisation of services to children with special needs, the school would lose its Speech and Language therapist, one of only a handful specialising in working with deaf children.

Parents said that if this move goes ahead and the school loses it’s in-school therapist, it will drastically impair the progress made by the children that rely on this specialist service.

If the service is removed, children that have access to this service will go on to community waiting lists which are already “bursting at the seams” they said. Children on community lists already face huge delays as a result of the redeployment of therapists to swabbing and contact tracing to help deal with the pandemic.

The experience of a Speech and Language therapist working with deaf children is not as easy to come by in a community setting. Parents rightly point out that deaf children have different communication needs and their therapy requires that the therapist be aware of issues impacting the communication needs of deaf children. The loss of an experienced in house therapist is devastating for the children and the school involved.

A similar situation has also occurred in a deaf school in Cork. These measures make little sense to all those impacted. Parents are hopeful that they will have political support to help keep these positions especially at this critical time as schools are set to begin their phased reopening.

Deaf children have already been seriously impacted by pandemic strategies. Redeployment of essential staff from audiology and speech and language services. Many could not access hearing tests or have new molds fitted following growth spurts. The introduction of masks into the classroom disproportionately impacts children with hearing loss.

Children need the support of the in house therapists and removing these supports for those most in need is unthinkable.

 


 

Margaret Byrne writes from Wicklow

 

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