Parents of autistic twins win school place for boys after six-year battle

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Parents of autistic twins with profound special needs have finally been told their boys have a place at school after a six-year battle.

Gillian and Darren Milne tried unsuccessfully to access special education for 11-year-old Kyle and Ryan.

The couple had to become full-time caregivers, which resulted in them losing their home due to arrears.

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The boys have ADHD, sensory processing disorder, global developmental delay and OCD.

They are both non-verbal with low immunity which means they pick up infections on a regular basis.

Ms Milne, from Glasnevin, north Dublin, said she received the good news yesterday.

She added: “We met [Minister of State for Special Education] Josepha Madigan who assured us that the boys would go to school in September and that they had a place for them. She was absolutely adorable – she is a mother herself.

“Ms Madigan seemed very genuine and assured us that advanced progress had been made for the boys.

“We were told there was a school for Ryan and Kyle in September but we weren’t given the name of the school.

“Ms Madigan met us at 11am and we had a long chat with her in the Dail. She was expecting us. She said they had been in contact with a number of schools – one in particular. She hadn’t confirmed the name yet but she stands firm on this development.

“But the bottom line is she said she was risking her reputation so if that failed it was on her.

“I brought all the reports with us to show him how special they are.

“We were promised that they would work hard for the boys and other families in this situation.

“It will be a difficult transition and we know it.

“We have been at home for years with the children.

“It will be very difficult for them to leave and difficult for us to let them go.

“We’re going to have to get used to that too. It won’t be easy – the boys don’t know the school. They don’t know how to be around other kids and they have so many OCDs on top of everything. It’s going to be tough, but we’re happy.

News of the boys’ school places came after Taoiseach Micheal Martin apologized to the family in the Dail on Wednesday.

He admitted the state had “let Ryan and Kyle down” because the boys hadn’t been to school in six years.

Mr Milne, who was a bus driver, had to quit his job to help his wife look after children at home.

As a result, they got into mortgage arrears and the iCare Housing project stepped in, but they will become owners of the property, meaning the Milnes are now tenants in their own home.

Ms Milne said it was ‘devastating’ given how they hoped the home would be for their sons for years to come.

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