Mum of autistic triplets: 'My fear is that in a few years I won’t be physically or mentally able to do this anymore'

Mum of autistic triplets: 'My fear is that in a few years I won’t be physically or mentally able to do this anymore'
Avlyn McKeown with her triplets Alex, Kyle and Rian, at their home in Cobh, Co Cork.Picture: David Keane.

A COBH single mum has reached breaking point as she struggles to access more supports for her autistic triplets.

Avlyn McKeown’s identical nine-year-old triplets - Alex, Kyle and Rian - are all non-verbal and require 24-hour care.

Avlyn spoke of the difficulties managing the boys as she grows older and the need for more HSE supports.

She said it has been particularly stressful in recent times given the boy’s behavioural issues, which have resulted in bruises all over her arms and legs.

“I recently turned 50,” she said.

“My fear is that in a few years I won’t be physically or mentally able to do this anymore. At nine years old there is kicking, biting and headbutting.

“In 10 years time, they are going to be 19 and even stronger.

“Meanwhile, I’ll be 60 and getting weaker.

“I need the help going forward to be able to keep the three boys together.

Autistic triplets Alex, Kyle and Rian McKeown  with their mother AvlynPicture: Eddie O'Hare
Autistic triplets Alex, Kyle and Rian McKeown  with their mother AvlynPicture: Eddie O'Hare

“The stress levels of looking after a child with severe special needs are equivalent to that of a combat soldier. I’m doing that by three.

“All they have in life is each other. Every mother has fears. They want to be able to care for their children from the cradle to the grave but without the right support going forward I won’t be able to do that.”

Avlyn is currently supported by two HSE home care workers who assist her for 16 hours per week.

However, she is required to remain with her sons and their carers during that time.

The 50-year-old said she has made an application for an updated home care package that will include weekly overnight care.

As the years progress, Rian, Alex and Kyle’s challenges will become more complex.

“The last nine years went by in the blink of an eye.

“Soon they’ll be facing puberty. However, they won’t have the capacity to understand what they are going through. At that point, their needs will become more complex.

“I’ll still have to do everything for them but there’ll be additional tasks like shaving.

“Someday I may be too old to look after them and residential care could be an option.

“However, I should be able to do that at my own pace and when we’re ready. In the meantime, I want to give my children the childhood they deserve.”

Avlyn said that the boys are a flight risk when out, which means she has to remain indoors with them for the majority of the time.

“When we don’t have the home care we basically don’t go outside the gate for the rest of the day.”

She said the loss of her father was a major setback. “Dad was my rock but I haven’t had any time to grieve for him because of the lack of support. Even now I’d love to be able to check on my mum to see how she’s coping but I don’t have the freedom to do that.”

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