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Dept of Education failing children with autism – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

1 August, 2019 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said the Minister for Education and the Department are continuously failing children with autism in not ensuring an adequate number of ASD classes and places are provided at both primary and post-primary level.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire 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 – nearly 3 years later we are still facing shortage of ASD units and places available for children who need them.

“It now appears as though there are hundreds of students, for whom there is no school place for September, as things stand. That isn’t acceptable - where there is a clear need in an area or for additional ASD units, they must be provided for. Many schools are making a significant effort, but some are refusing to provide even where there is a clear need in the locality demonstrated, and the Department must take robust action to tackle that.

“Most parents have to apply to several schools just to get a place. Sometimes even when they do get a place, they face difficulty with the school transport schemes. Many other parents have not been given a place by any school they apply to.

"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, and this needs to be well planned in advance.

"This, along with stringent enforcement of guidelines for schools, needs to happen so that no child falls through the cracks of Education.

“It is incumbent on the Minister that he do all within his power to ensure that school places are provided for all children in this State.

“Both the Department of Education and the Minister are continuously failing children with autism in not ensuring an adequate number of school places specific to these children’s educational needs are provided.”

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