Parents of autistic twins said Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s apology for the state’s failure to provide children with a proper education was “too little, too late”.
Three years after making a special appeal on RTE’s prime time, parents Gillian (Bolger), 48, and Darren Milne, 51, returned to the show last night to urge the state to live up to its promises to help them redeem.
The couple live in Glasnevin, north Dublin, with their 21-year-old son George and their 11-year-old identical twins Ryan and Kyle.
The twins have severe autism and a range of other special needs including ADHD and severe learning disabilities. Kyle has developed obsessive-compulsive disorder for the past two years.
The couple are now asking the state to step in and provide the twins with places in a special school.
Micheál Martin said in the Dáil: “The state has failed the Milne family and particularly Ryan and Kyle in providing these children with a proper comprehensive education that meets their needs.”
“I apologize on behalf of the government to the Milne family because it just isn’t good enough. I’m not above it, I think there’s a lack of proactivity in the system.”
Mr Martin said there was a need to create new special schools and expand capacity in existing schools.
However, Ms Milne said the Taoiseach’s apology was “too little, too late” as the twins are now almost of secondary school age.
“We are disappointed as a family at what happened to the twins and we as a family. It was only the Taoiseach himself who brought this up in the Dail in 2019 when we appeared on prime time to say it wasn’t good enough and that it was a situation that needed to be dealt with,” she said versus RTÉ’s Drivetime.
“And now, three years later, he himself has given us a state pardon, it’s just too late – Ryan and Kyle are now 11. He can’t give us back those six years they should have spent in school.
“They couldn’t take communion with any friends or anything. They just want what every other kid has, and I don’t see that just because you have autism that that should be taken away from you.
“We, as parents, would have preferred it if someone called this morning and said, ‘We’ll get your kids into school in September.’ It would mean more to us as parents that they make a commitment to do this for Ryan and Kyle and for other children and not let any other family go through what we went through.”
Ms Milne said the family was in debt as they struggled to live on €376 a week along with some sick pay.
Coupled with the stress of finding a decent school place for their sons, the couple faced the prospect of losing their home in 2019 as Mr Milne, who is a Dublin coach, is in arrears on a €50,000 mortgage was driver who has to take so much time off work to take care of the problem.
And while a housing association arranged for their home to be bought so it would not be repossessed, the couple said they are still facing financial difficulties and now have no option to let the boys have their home in the future.
“You can apologize all you want, but no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. We lost our home, can you give it back to us Taoiseach? Darren had to give up his job. We will never be financially stable,” she said.
“Our home was all we wanted to give our boys if anything ever happened to us.”
Ms Milne said the family’s daily life is governed by a rigid routine.
“Ryan and Kyle may be identical twins, but their personalities are completely different.
“Our average day with Kyle, a lot of our mornings start at 3am, so he gets up at 3am and stays up until he goes back to bed at 9pm,” she said.
“If he gets up at 3 a.m., he has to drive, he only goes to McDonalds for breakfast every day, that’s all he eats. So he’ll want to get in the car at 3am, even though McDonald’s doesn’t open until 7am. So we could take Kyle two or three rides between that time until finally McDonalds opens and then Ryan would usually be up before that time.
“And if one of us is out with Kyle, the other of us has to get up with Ryan, it’s not like one parent can look after the two of them. You have significant learning difficulties. They both have weak immune systems, so they get infection after infection.
“They won’t be staying in the house, so every day we have to fill a day for Ryan and Kyle.”
The mother-of-three said it took a toll on her and her husband’s mental health.
Ms Milne said the family’s priority is to give the children the education they deserve and keep their home.
“It’s soul crushing, you get up every day knowing what to expect that day,” she said.
“We have no social life, we don’t go out to eat, we don’t go to the movies.
“We don’t have anyone coming in except our oldest boy who is 21 and he’s been like a third parent for so long and that in itself is unfair.
“In terms of your sanity, I can’t even stress how difficult it is because you love your children and you don’t let them down, but you’re getting to your breaking point. It was getting to the point where there wasn’t anything to look forward to on days.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/its-too-little-too-late-everyday-is-soul-destroying-heartbroken-mother-of-twins-with-autism-on-taoiseachs-apology-41665351.html ‘It’s too little, too late…every day is soul crushing’ – heartbroken mother of twins with autism on Taoiseach’s apology