Urgent need for ASD units for schoolchildren with Autism - Kathleen Funchion TD
Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Kathleen Funchion said a more cooperative attitude is needed towards school children on the Autism Spectrum by schools and that more ASD units were necessary across the State if every child with Autism was to achieve their potential through full education.
Questioning the Minister for Education and Skills today on the acute shortage of ASD classes being provided for children in both Primary and Post – Primary Education, the Carlow/Kilkenny TD said:
"A study in 2016 from the National Council for Special Education found that 14,000 students have an autism diagnosis – that’s one in every 65 students or 1.5% of the school population.
"That was 2016 – over 2 years later we are still facing shortage of ASD units and places available for children who need them.
"It’s not ok to say a child must travel an hour and a half to a school because there is no place for them in their locality; or that a child must start school late or leave early as those are the only hours that a school is equipped for providing a child with Autism.
"This would not be tolerated or deemed acceptable for any child in a mainstream class. These decisions put the child with additional needs at a disadvantage. It is discriminatory behaviour and it has to end.
"Where there is a clear need in an area or constituency for additional ASD units, they must be provided for.
"I welcome the Minister’s comments today acknowledging this as well as the fact that the need for ASD units has substantially increased for both Primary and Post Primary Education.
"The rising figure of children on the Autism Spectrum should shape policy making and inform the Department of Education on the number of ASD units that are realistically needed.
"This, along with stringent enforcement of guidelines for schools, needs to happen so that no child falls through the cracks of Education."