Tuesday, 10 February 2004
Department of Education and Science
Special Educational Needs
Question 275: To ask the Minister for Education and Science his views on the current shortage of places for children with autism in applied behaviour analysis schools; if he has received the proposal put forward by The Saplings to open a second school; when he proposes to sanction this much needed essential education service for young disabled children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3942/04]
I am anxious that all children, including children with autistic spectrum disorders receive education appropriate to their needs. There are seven facilities in the State operating on a pilot-project basis and using alternative educational methods for teaching children on the autistic spectrum. Three of the seven are CABAS facilities, whose teaching method involves a comprehensive application of behaviour analysis to schooling approach.
A decision regarding the retention of these establishments will be made in light of an evaluation of provision for children with an autistic spectrum disorder carried out by my Department's inspectorate. It is envisaged that the outcome of the evaluation will be determined and a decision taken on the future of the facilities during the course of the current school year.
My Department is actively considering an application from The Saplings, Kildare, for autistic provision in south County Dublin. My officials are liaising with my Department's inspectorate and the National Educational Psychological Service, NEPS, in this regard. A response will issue to the applicants as quickly as possible.