Irish family struggling to care for their autistic children risk being forced out of their home

Irish family struggling to care for their autistic children risk being forced out of their home

AN IRISH FAMILY are at risking of losing their home as they battle to look after their children who have special needs.

Darren and Gillian Bolger-Milne have two sons, both of whom are autistic, and have spoken of the hardship they both face in trying to keep their lives together - and even trying to keep their house.

Their sons Kyle and Ryan require almost round-the-clock care, and due to difficulties in finding them school places, their parents have had to make huge sacrifices in order to look after them.

"It takes two people, easily, sometimes three, to look after Ryan and Kyle," said Darren.

The couple say it's been extremely difficult to find their sons places at school and insist that more must be done to help children with special needs and their families.

The problem had been building up from earlier in the year and had come into sharp focus over the last few weeks as Darren and Gillian struggled to find an appropriate school place for their children.

"[We've had] no support, no school placement, no home tuition, so we've had to just be here [at home]," Darren added.

As a result, Darren says he's had to cut his working hours so he can spend more time at home, but that means the family are running dangerously low on income, and they're at risk of losing their home.

"I had to be here, as much as I possibly could. Which basically means I was missing work, which results in you falling behind in your mortgage, falling behind with other bills, and now it's gotten to the stage where the house could be repossessed," said Darren.

"It's broken us as a family," stressed Gillian. "You've got to get up in the morning, for Ryan and Kyle, you've got to keep going, but there's days when it's just so hard to do that, because behind it all, you're really afraid of the post coming in the door.

"You're fighting fighting fighting, day in, day out and you're exhausted," she added.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin highlighted the story, which was featured on RTÉ's 'Prime Time', while speaking to the the Dail.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar acknowledged the difficulties faced by parents such as Darren and Gillian and said their specific case was being looked at by the Education Minister.

He added that provisions for special needs had been tripled since 2011, with 10,000 school places available and 13,000 special needs teachers.

He acknowledged there were still problems but insisted that good progress had been made in addressing the issue, adding that almost €2bn was now being spent each year on special needs education.