A JUDGE has dismissed the concerns of a father that a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) would stigmatise his son and has given the go-ahead for the assessment.

At the Family Law Court, Judge Mary Larkin said that the father’s approach to the proposed Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) assessment for his primary school going son reminded her of the attitude there was to leprosy in the past.

Judge Larkin said that it was her view that the boy may or may not be on the autistic spectrum “but if he is, surely to God he is entitled to have whatever supports that are necessary”.

The parents of the boy are estranged and solicitor for the mother, Sarah Jane Whyte said that the school had recommended an assessment for ASD for the boy.

Ms Whyte said that the school is already deploying a tool kit for the boy that they would regularly use where someone is diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum.

She said, “It is benefiting him and they are concerned that when he goes to secondary school that he has that tool kit and this is why they have stressed the urgency of getting the assessment done”.

Solicitor for the father, Oonagh Moylan said that her client’s concern is that any diagnosis for ASD would stigmatise his son.

Ms Moylan said, “He doesn’t feel it would be of any benefit to the child only to further….”

And in reply, Judge Larkin asked, “This man is not an expert is he?”

In response, Ms Moylan said, “I appreciate that judge but the child is already under the care of a psychologist and this has not been recommended by the psychologist. It has been canvassed by the school”.

Judge Larkin said, “The psychologist isn’t looking at this boy every day – he is in school every day”.

Giving the go-ahead for the assessment, Judge Larkin pointed out that the school letter on the issue says “a possible ASD diagnosis”.

Judge Larkin told Ms Moylan her client has jumped to the conclusion that his son would have a positive diagnosis “and it is going to stigmatise him”.

Judge Larkin stated that “if you have a condition, you have to have it taken into account by the education people”.

She stated, “I just can’t see how if the school wants to do something that he would stand in their way”.

Judge Larkin said that let the assessment be done now “ and the question of a delay is of no benefit”.

Judge Larkin advised that the father go into the school “and make sure that he fully understands what is proposed and what isn’t” and have the boy’s psychologist contact the school’s psychologist on the matter.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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