No help for self-harming six year old

Vicki Cadogan and her son Harry.

“I could bury my child because of this”.

Those are the chilling words of a Limerick mother who as been unable to get psychological help for her self-harming six-year old son.

The issue of the waiting list for child psychology services through the Blackberry care centre in Limerick was raised in the Limerick Post last November when the HSE Community services announced they had employed two child psychologists.

After waiting six months, Vicki Cadogan from Clareview brought her six-year-old son, Harry to be assessed privately at a cost of €800 because she had been waiting so long for the HSE service. Harry was diagnosed as being on the Autism scale.

But the diagnosis is far from the end of the matter as Harry exhibits behaviour that could be seriously harmful.

He needs the ongoing help of a psychologist but none are available.

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Vicki says that one of the two psychologists employed last year is on maternity leave and another is waiting to take up the post pending clearance for policing authorities in the USA where he previously worked.

‘Harry beats his head off anything he can find – the hard tile floor, the door, the wall – he hits himself in the head with his own fists, he is so angry and frustrated. I have to watch him every second. His speech and play therapists say he needs the help of a psychologist but we can’t get any appointment for him,” Vicki told the Limerick Post.

In early December, the occupational therapist from Blackberry told me Harry needed to see a psychologist for his anger and self-harming, she feared it would only get worse and he could seriously hurt himself or turn on a member of his family”.

Vicki has tried to get her son seen privately but can’t.

“The private child psychologists are all booked up doing assessments because no-one can get one done through the public system.

Vicki is herself disabled and her husband, Aiden, works full-time. She finds it very difficult to cope with Harry’s self-harming behaviour.

“I’m terrified that he is going to seriously injure himself. I could be burying my child because of this,” she said.

The couple have paid privately for play therapy and speech and language therapy because Harry has had just a handful of sessions through the Blackberry centre in the 18 months the family has been dealing with them.

“If he doesn’t get help now, what will it be like when he’s a teenager?

“I’m not the only parent in this situation. It’s hard for parents who are caring for a child with problems to find the energy to fight for services, We’re broken just trying to take care of our children,” said Vicki.

A spokesman for the HSE said that while they do not respond to individual cases, in general terms, they would advise that if a parent has significant immediate concerns, they should contact their GP or Public Health Nurse.

“Recruitment for the post of Clinical Psychologist commenced in 2017 with interviews held the first week in October.  Currently a candidate is being processed for this position.

“In addition, a part-time locum Clinical Psychologist is due to commence due in late March early April and other additional Psychology resources have been put in place.  This will help to address the current waiting time”.

More local news here.