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