When my severely autistic son was high school age, the local public school system offered him a placement at the high school. I remember feeling the swell of hope in my throat as I met with the administrators. Nat ... at the high school, one of the best in the country!
Up until then, Nat had attended private autism programs most of his school career because there were no district-based programs for him. Born in 1989, Nat was at the beginning of the huge autism wave that was to come. His childhood had been very lonely, with few options. I had been swallowing down dreams of inclusion for my firstborn for so many years.
Lynn U. Berman
Senior Manager, Media Relations
Gayle Murphy is a single mother who lives in Castleknock with her severely autistic 11 year old son Luca. She cares for him, alone, 24 hours a day and he hasn't had any intervention or therapy of any kind since last summer. Listen to her story.
Gayle says it’s been more than two years since he received appropriate or effective education from the State. He was given day service in a government supported respite centre, but the programme did not work out and Luca stopped attending in May of last year.
Since then, without proper intervention, Luca has developed problem behaviours - self harming and wetting himself.
I went to meet with Gayle in their home to get a sense of the reality of life when caring for a person with autism.
Autism Charity Shine put Gayle in contact with a voluntary advocacy officer - Geraldine - who occasionally helps out.
Geraldine kindly agreed to help look after Luca for the duration of this interview, but even so, you'll hear how challenging Luca's behaviour can be.
Gayle started out talking about how their day so far had been...