A mother of four children with autism says she has reported herself to Tusla for having to leave three of them unsupervised while she drives the fourth to school 20km away – because of a lack of transport.
Carol Lennon, from Mornington, Co Meath, has to leave her kids at home to wait for their own school escorts – or try to drop all four off at schools in three different counties, all at the same time.
She’s hoping that Tusla will now investigate why her children have to be left unsupervised, in the hope that it will put pressure on Bus Éireann to provide travel.
Ms Lennon says that travel was approved last April for her daughter Tiegan.
The determined mother knows how important it is to keep routines and schedules in her home to avoid her children becoming stressed.
However, routine went out of the window last week when Tiegan (12) started secondary school with transport not yet in place.
“Tiegan has a diagnosis of autism, ADHD and dyslexia and takes Ritalin every day to assist her with focus and compliance,” said Ms Lennon.
“Up until she was prescribed medication she needed two special needs assistants at her school to ensure her safety,” she added.
Last week, Tiegan started her first year at Coláiste Ghlór na Mara in Balbriggan, Co Dublin.
Her brothers Tristan (16) and Logan (15) attend Coláiste na hInse in Bettystown, Co Meath.
Ms Lennon’s youngest child Xylan (10) is at Gaelscoil an Bhradáin Feasa, Co Louth.
All her children have transport to and from school this year with the exception of Tiegan, though Ms Lennon says she applied for it last April to ensure ample time for the application to be processed.
“No bus called on her first day so it fell on me to make the journey there and back – a 40km round trip,” she said.
“If I only had Tiegan, this occurrence, while an inconvenience, would not be impossible, but I don’t just have one.
“These kids cannot be left at home unsupervised to wait for their transport while I do a 40km round trip to get Tiegan to school.
“Nor can they come with me as they then would be late for school.
“I actually reported myself to the education welfare officer at Tusla so they would investigate why I’m leaving my kids with autism unsupervised each school morning,” she added.
Bus Éireann said it did not generally comment on individual cases.
But it added: “We are aware of this application and are working to get it resolved as a matter of priority.
“We will liaise with the family in relation to any transport arrangements, as soon as possible.”