Jacinta Walsh from Drogheda is a carer for her 18-year-old son, Sam, and recently opened up about how hard looking after him can be.


Sam has autism, is learning disabled and has a number of health conditions, including Type 1 diabetes.


His behaviour is unpredictable and can be extremely violent, and Jacinta has suffered a number of serious assaults at his hands.


Frighteningly, in one incident the mum was left severely bruised and battered after he headbutted her for nearly 30 minutes while the pair were walking along the beach. 



“He just turned on me and he grabbed me by the hair and he sort of headbutted me for 20 to 25 minutes," the 51-year-old told Prime Time's Miriam O'Callaghan, as part of a special extended programme which sees the host visiting carers and those they care for around the country. 


Recalling that terrifying time, Jacinta said that she couldn’t release herself from his grip; she was also worried that he would turn on someone else, and so endured the attack which left her battered and bruised.


He left school in June, and began attending a day centre in September. 


However, since he turned 18 in July respite care ,which was available to him or his family, came to an end - a service that Jacinta and her family desperately need.



“I can’t tell you the difference it makes having respite. It makes such a difference. If you know that you are getting a break in two or three weeks’ time you can carry on in between.


"But if there’s no break on the horizon, ever that’s where we are now, there is nothing. It’s really hard.”


Prime Time’s Carers in Crisis airs in RTÉ One on Tuesday, 5th December.