Tuesday, 27 February 2007
Department of Education and Science
Special Educational Needs
Question 504: To ask the Minister for Education and Science the reason there is a need to set up a separate education unit for autistic children at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 13 when Achieve ABA has been operating successfully at the same site since 3 April, 2006 and are still to date providing educational services to six autistic children, employing six people, has the capacity to expand and has been seeking funding from her Department since February 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7505/07]
The Deputy will be aware of my commitment to ensuring that all children, including those with autism receive an education appropriate to their needs, preferably through the primary and post primary school network. In this context, to address the demand for autism-specific education in the area in question, my Department sanctioned a special early intervention class for younger children on the autistic spectrum in the school in question.
My Department is of the view that children with autism, in common with all children should have access to appropriate provision delivered by suitably qualified teachers within the school system where children have greatest opportunity to mix with their wider peer group and have maximum opportunities for integration. My Department's ongoing commitment is to ensuring that all children, including those with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, receive an education appropriate to their needs. In this regard my Department has established:
181 special classes for children with autism, attached to special and mainstream schools.
5 special classes for children with Asperger's Syndrome.
16 pre-school classes to facilitate the demand for early intervention provision for children on the autistic spectrum, which includes the class referred to by the Deputy.
14 Stand alone facilities providing an Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) specific methodologies on a pilot basis â 2 of these facilities have yet to be established.
A separate application from the group referred to by the Deputy is under consideration for inclusion in the above mentioned pilot scheme.