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Long journey for Amy over as she prepares for next step

As a child with Down syndrome, Amy had to fight for any help the State would give, and the family was forced to seek assistance privately.

Amy Lynch from Tralee, who was awarded a merit in the Leaving Cert Applied with her mother Jean. Photograph: Eye Focus Ltd.

The grade on Amy Lynch’s certificate read “merit” but behind that single word lay a series of huge achievements.
“It was a long journey, thinking back over the past 21 years,” said her proud mother Jean.

When her daughter was a toddler she would barely speak a word, and “from the health board there was not much there. In two years, you might get a block of six weeks of speech therapy and then you wouldn’t get any more”.

Yesterday, Amy made her voice heard, collecting her qualification in the Leaving Certificate Applied. It took two years of earning credits from, among things a French project on Les Misérables, helping to stage a play in her classroom and extensive computer and English work, capped off by a 71 per cent grade in art.

Collecting her results from Mercy Mounthawk secondary school in Tralee, a modest Amy said she was delighted her studies had paid off.

She was looking forward to attending IT Tralee in September where she is starting a three-year course in life skills supported by the HSE and St John of God.

“We are lucky to find something that will suit her,” said Jean. “She loves speech and drama, and did a ballet show in Tralee.”

As a child with Down syndrome, Amy had to fight for any help the State would give, and the family was forced to seek assistance privately “from an American lady in Killarney” and an elderly nun who had some experience in the field from Canada, Jean recalled. “You’d try anything.”

Amy’s big day yesterday was something of a family achievement too. Her younger brother Mark – who is sitting the Leaving Cert next year – and her older sister Gillian, who is doing a PhD at NUI Galway, both helped her to prepare.

As for what the future holds? Says Jean: “It’s one step at a time.”

(Article courtesy of Irish Times)