Caroline Goldsmith, psychologist Irish GDPR for the Autistic

Caroline Goldsmith Consulting Clinical Psychologist on Irish GDPR issues for Autistic families and recent Breaches raised by RTE Investigates

Caroline Goldsmith Consulting Clinical Psychologist discusses Irish GDPR issues for Autistic families

Article invited and submitted to GDPREU by Caroline Goldsmith, a Consulting Clinical Psychologist who specialises in private mental health support and family autism support on South-East Ireland (Waterford, County Waterford). All words by Caroline Goldsmith. GDPREU do not agree or disagree with the views expressed in this article.

Words by Caroline Goldsmith 

GDPR – or in full as it is; General Data Protection Rights has become a much-used phrase in Ireland due to recent controversy. As it applies to Autism families, GDPR issues recently hit the headlines when it was discovered there had been catastrophic breaches and violations of GDPR affecting Autistic families.

In the wake of claims that the Department of Health has been maintaining extensive files on children with autism, questions must be asked about the legal basis for the collection of such data, best practice in data sharing within Government and the consequences of the disclosures for public trust in the State’s protection of fundamental GDPR issues.

A call has been made for an inquiry into the practice by the Department of Health of secretly gathering information from private doctor consultations to create dossiers on children with autism involved in legal actions against the State.

Caroline Goldsmith stated “as a psychologist working with Autistic families all the time I would certainly take note of the RTÉ Investigates programme last year that came about following a protected disclosure about the dossiers. Shockingly, as the programme showed, they included medical and educational information of children involved in long-dormant court cases, gathered without the knowledge or consent of parents. GDPR is particularly imperative in medical records, particularly in the mental health field and clinical psychology field, or work with those with a legally protected title.”

It could be asked as to how Autistic families are to trust the legal process, if they not only have to sue the HSE in order to get their rights for Assessments for Autistic children, but also worry about where that information is going when it is supposed to be protected by legal privilege. However, is actually being accessed in violation of GDPR for the benefit of the very state body they are taking their case against.

An Irish TD stated that an inquiry should be set up “similar in scope and duration to the Scally inquiry into the cervical cancer screening programme” and should investigate the roles of the Departments of Health and Education and the HSE in the scandal.


GDPR Breaches – Another Caveat for Failed Support for Autism Families in Ireland, Argues Caroline Goldsmith

Such revelations give rise to concern as to what is actually going on behind the scenes for parents of Autistic children, who seem to get a never ending very rough deal (the issues, as far as I remember, have being going on for well over a decade now). Apparently, the only attention being given to them, is to keep track of when, why and how they are suing the HSE and the government for their rights to have their children assessed and given suitable intervention. Of course, the HSE will just claim personal error in administration as to the breaches.

This is of course, just one singular issue in a whole myriad of issues we’ve currently got facing vulnerable families in Ireland with autistic children. A significant proportion of children who are autistic in Ireland, are yet to receive a professional autism diagnosis from the health service in Ireland. The waiting list for autism assessments in Ireland is beyond belief – the average is around 18 months now for autistic families. 4000 children (and that’s optimistic estimates) are yet to access appropriate school places due to a massive backlog in child autism assessments. Thus, a significant proportion of families are relying on private assessments to diagnose autism for their children.

This costs them more (it should be free and easy accessible via the Irish health service) as private clients via private psychologists such as myself. We do an excellent job (and we are well respected widely in the psychological society in Ireland and Europe), but where early intervention is needed in an autistic child’s social and educational development, many parents would benefit from more robust support and no further delay in getting their child diagnosed by the state.

Psychologist Ireland

Author Profile – Caroline Goldsmith

Ms Goldsmith resides in Waterford, Ireland. She has a two decade long career in private psychology practice, namely in autism assessment psychopathy, bereavement counselling, and couples therapy as a private practice. She holds a strong body of qualifications from The National Academy of Neuropsychology, The University of East London, The Open University (Online University), Newman University, CMIT Institute Dublin, and Trinity College Dublin. Ms Goldsmith has had select papers published in academic journals in areas such as Applied Positive Psychology, Clinical Assessments on Children, New Assessment Tools for Autism in Adults, Expert Evidence in Cutting Edge Psychometric Training for Legitimate Masters Qualifications, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment Implications and Resilience in Clinical Applications.

Caroline Goldsmith holds a private psychology and mental health private practice. You can visit her website here: