Exhausted mum rallying others to fight for help for their children

by Sylvia Pownall
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A mum-of-five who lives in An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s constituency has pleaded with him to help her son who has Cerebral Palsy.

Lesley Anne O’Brien (35), from Clonee, says she is at “breaking point” because of the lack of support for her seven-year-old boy, Jamie.

After years of waiting he was finally given a brain scan in November 2016 – but it was another ten months before the family was informed of his diagnosis.

Jamie was given a splint and a walking frame but has had ZERO hours of occupational therapy, and Lesley Anne is now planning a march to the Dail to hand-deliver a letter to the Taoiseach.

She told Dublin Gazette: “Sometimes I feel like giving up. I’m at my wits’ end. Jamie is wrecking my home and he is hurting himself. We need help now.”

She added: “When he was born he didn’t sit up on his own, never crawled. He was falling over, smashing his face and his teeth. He wouldn’t stop crying, but the doctors just said I was depressed and gave me tablets.”

In desperation, a frazzled Lesley Anne, whose eldest child is eight, posted a video on Facebook as a cry for help which has since been shared all around the globe.

She said: “People contacted me telling me they’d left Ireland because of it. One couple moved to Australia to get services for their child, who has autism.”

In the video, she reveals that it’s 10.30pm and she’s just managed to get her kids to bed as a result of Jamie’s behavioural problems.

She reveals: “Tonight was very, very difficult to say the least. He came in and just lost it; it resulted in kicking and punching and screaming and clattering, and hitting his brother and sisters.”

Close to tears, she addresses An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris directly and tells them: “Stop failing our children. Our children once again are being failed by the system because they aren’t getting the care that they need.”

Lesley Anne, who had to give up her job as a hairdresser to care for Jamie and his siblings, continues: “It’s twenty to eleven, I have a pizza in the oven because I don’t have time to eat during the day.

“I have baby sick all over me because I don’t have time to change. I’m so tired, I’m so exhausted. Sometimes I feel like giving up …

“I’m begging someone out there to just share my video, to share my pain, to share the torture I’m going through at the moment to get my son everything he needs.”

Lesley Anne has set up a Facebook page – Help Our Children Ireland – and local Cllr Tania Doyle (Ind) is backing her campaign.

‘Waiting lists’

Cllr Doyle told Dublin Gazette: “Jamie needs to be assessed by an Occupational Therapist, but the waiting lists are up to four years on the public system. If you go private you can be seen straight away and that’s simply wrong in this day and age.”

Lesley Anne will march from the Taoiseach’s constituency office in Ongar to the Dail on September 18 and is calling on others to join her.

She said: “I want everybody, even if it’s only a couple of steps, to walk with me to show their support, just to say that they’re behind me.

“As it stands I’m starting to break, I am struggling. If you don’t scream in this country you will not be heard.”

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