A solitary journey: Why mental health services need to do more to support the needs of autistic children and their parents

Children and teenagers are falling through the cracks in an under-resourced support system that fails to join the dots between being on the spectrum and other conditions such as ADHD

A child in a therapy sensory stimulating room. Picture: Getty

Like many parents with autistic children, Fiona O’Leary has had to grapple with narrow-minded attitudes. The Cork-based activist remembers times when people expressed concern about her eldest son apparently not being “normal”. One incident that particularly stung was a cinema trip where a stranger approached her son and asked: “Well, what’s wrong with you?”

What non-autistic people often fail to understand, she says, is that children’s seemingly unusual behaviour may be normal for them. For ...