A mum’s fight to give her five-year-old son every chance

by Gazette Reporter

By Rose Barrett

A mum of two is fundraising for private health care to give her autistic five-year-old boy every chance in life.

Ionela Vartolomei identified issues in her son David’s development at an early age but found the public health service was not meeting his needs.

Ionela, who lives in Phibsborough with her two children Antonia, six, and five-year-old David, recognised unusual behaviour in her son before he was three years old.

She revealed: “I could see the difference between Antonia and David as infants. He wasn’t speaking, he wasn’t interested in playing with his sister, and always went to play on his own. He loved to play with his shadow, and was constantly shaking his hands.”

Along with sensory issues around food, Ionela knew David was presenting with developmental issues and was perhaps on the autism spectrum. Now he hates the feel of his clothes and constantly wants to remove them.

She told Dublin Gazette: “In November 2019, I had him privately assessed and this confirmed that David had nonverbal autism. His assessment recommended speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, ABA therapy, sensory therapy – the list is endless and the services are just not available.

“David loves to play with his sensory toys and with his ball. He loves his bath and water, bubbles, and children’s nursery rhymes, Old McDonald being his favourite. I applied a second time to the public health service… but repeatedly told there was a two-year waiting list.”

In December Ionela got an appointment at Ashgrove House on the Navan Road. He has since been moved to the Daughters of Charity services and Ionela was advised he would have to wait three months for an appointment.

“These are the vital years in David’s development – so I have gone down the route of private therapy for my son, and it’s showing improvements. David is now tasting and biting a bit of apple and pear, and he loves the taste of Tayto.

“He also loves reading and watching the pages turning. But it’s slow. It’s €100 per hour for speech therapy and I try to give him 2-4 hours a week. I have another lady therapist who comes to the house 3-4 times a week to work with David, that’s €25 per hour.

“David is working well with the therapists; he now has a limited vocabulary but these are the vital years to develop his skills and I want to give him every opportunity in life.”

To donate visit the GoFundMe here.

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