Mum’s heart­felt plea to help her ‘beau­ti­ful son’

Irish Examiner - - News - Cather­ine Shana­han

For a tan­gi­ble ex­pres­sion of moth­erly love, see Adri­enne Mur­phy and Caoimh Con­nolly, mother and child, faces pressed ten­derly to­gether in a photo of a protest at the Dáil when Caoimh was just a tot.

Fast-for­ward 14 years, and while the bond is just as strong, Caoimh’s se­vere autism is sab­o­tag­ing their lives.

Adri­enne, a jour­nal­ist, now finds her­self at the cen­tre of a story af­ter mak­ing a heart­ful plea on Face­book for help.

Adri­enne says her son is prone to “in­creas­ingly vi­o­lent psy­chotic episodes” that he “draws blood and bruises”, is dou­bly in­con­ti­nent, of­ten wakes up cov­ered in ex­cre­ment and is “vi­o­lently ag­gres­sive” to­wards her­self and his 17-year-old brother.

She has been in cri­sis for the past two years, she says, dur­ing which time she made nu­mer­ous 999 calls from her own home be­cause of the dan­ger Caoimh posed to her and to him­self.

On one oc­ca­sion, he was “smash­ing up the house com­pletely naked, go­ing in­sane” and when emer­gency ser­vices ar­rived, he was hand­cuffed, a towel put over his head, and taken by am­bu­lance to the emer­gency department for se­da­tion.

Adri­enne says the HSE is fully ap­praised of their sit­u­a­tion and that she was told four months ago there was fund­ing in place to care for her son, “that they re­alised we were an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion, that he was top of the list of young peo­ple with autism who need res­i­den­tial care.”

Adri­enne says Caoimh had been deemed el­i­gi­ble for res­i­den­tial care and they be­lieved the ad­mis­sions’ process was im­mi­nent. How­ever, she said they re­ceived an email last week from the HSE say­ing there were other steps that have to be gone through, in­clud­ing ther­a­pists ob­serv­ing Caoimh in his own home to as­sess his suit­abil­ity for place­ment.

Yes­ter­day, speak­ing from Crum­lin Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal where Caoimh was ad­mit­ted on Wed­nes­day night, Adri­enne said the HSE of­fer “was not a suit­able re­sponse”.

“When you’ve ac­knowl­edged the emer­gency [the HSE], you need an emer­gency re­sponse,” she said.

Adri­enne was in­vited to a meet­ing with HSE of­fi­cials and autism ser­vices providers last Mon­day where she spoke to “peers of our case man­agers” who made phonecalls on her be­half. How­ever, she said she has heard noth­ing since. Adri­enne says a unit suit­able for her son is cur­rently ly­ing idle. It is less than a 30 minute com­mute from his spe­cial school in Dublin and less than 40 min­utes from their Rialto home. She said a HSE of­fer of ad­di­tional care in the home is a non-run­ner be­cause she can­not guar­an­tee care work­ers’ safety.

“I feel like no­body cares if we live or die, never mind the bru­tal­is­ing con­di­tions we are com­pelled to en­dure every day.”

In a state­ment, the HSE said it was “aware of this case and are work­ing with the fam­ily”.

“The HSE will con­tinue to work with the fam­ily in re­la­tion to home sup­port and other care op­tions,” the state­ment said.

The Department of Health said Min­is­ter Si­mon Harris “is very aware of this very dif­fi­cult case and has been in di­rect con­tact with the HSE in re­la­tion to it”.

“Ev­ery­one is work­ing hard to find a res­o­lu­tion to this,” the state­ment said.

Caoimh Con­nolly pic­tured yes­ter­day at Crum­lin hos­pi­tal, where he was ad­mit­ted this week.

Adri­enne Mur­phy kisses her son Caoimh then aged 2, at a protest out­side the Dail in 2006.

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