Parents Of Autistic Boy Awarded €61,000

The High Court has awarded almost €61,000 to the parents of a six-year-old autistic boy because of delays by the Health Service Executive in treating him.

Mr Justice Michael Peart ruled there had been a breach in the HSE’s duty of care towards Seán Ó Cuanacháin due to delays in providing him with therapy and intervention. However, Justice Peart said that Seán had since made very good progress and awarded damages in line with that finding.

Justice Peart also delivered a 270-page judgment in which he outlined his reasons for refusing to compel the State to provide a certain type of education for Seán.

The boy’s parents, Cian and Yvonne Ó Cuanacháin, took the State to court to force it to provide their son with the 30 hours a week of Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) education, which they say he needs. However, Justice Peart ruled that the type of education being offered by the State was appropriate.

Seán is currently receiving some ABA education in a school in Co Wicklow, which is part funded by the Department of Education. Mrs Uí Chuanacháin said that before Seán received the ABA education, he was injuring himself regularly, banging his head against walls and getting frustrated with his inability to communicate. But since going to the school in Wicklow he has improved dramatically.

The case ran for 68 days and was the longest running case of its kind. Costs are estimated at more than €5m. Lawyers for the Minister for Education indicated they would not be seeking their costs against the Ó Cuanacháins. However, the Ó Cuanacháins will have a substantial legal bill of their own. They will be seeking costs against the HSE, which will be addressed in the High Court again next week.