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Education

Educational Interventions need to be:

  • specific to your child’s needs
  • predicated on the outcome of a Psychological Assessment or Individual Education Plan (IEP) or both
  • evidence based
  • delivered by professionals who have the correct training and resources to deliver the requirements of the Psychological Assessment and/or IEP  the intervention for your child must be measured regularly, you as parents or guardians should be consulted and it should be reviewed at least every year but preferably every 6 months

New diagnosis and the Department of Education and Science

  • If a diagnosis of ASD has been confirmed by an appropriate professional(s), (multi-disciplinary team, psychiatrist, clinical psychologist), the parents/guardians may contact the Special Education Section of the Department of Education and Science for information about the types and distribution of services supported by the Department.
  • Reports confirming the diagnosis of an ASD should be dated within the previous twelve months. A provisional diagnosis is acceptable at this stage. The Department may also need to consult its own professional advisers about your child’s needs.
  • The Department provides funding for a number of school-type centres for children of pre-school age, depending on the needs of the individual child. A current list of these facilities may be found in the Your County pages included in this website  or on the Departments website http://www.education.ie
  • Alternatively, funding for home tuition may be provided and parents are expected to engage a suitable person to provide this tuition.
  • Details of the home tuition scheme, including the application form, may be accessed from the Departments website www.education.ie.
  • Typically, complete applications for home tuition are processed within four weeks of receipt. Parents should note that the home tuition scheme is currently under review by the Department.
  • The early intervention services provided by the health services will assist parents in determining their child’s needs and in drawing up and reviewing an individual programme for their child.
  • Services provided by the health services include speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and clinical psychological services.
  • The health professionals will also assist parents to identify appropriate supports in relation to pre-school services, provide advice in respect of the most appropriate school placement for their child and liaise with the teaching staff in the transition to a school placement.
  • Information concerning these services may he obtained from the health board in the area in which the child is resident.

Attending a local school

  • The Departments policy of inclusion in relation to students with special educational needs (SEN) encourages children with a diagnosis of ASD to attend their local school, with support.
  • However, parents are advised to consult the relevant professional(s), (multi-disciplinary team, psychiatrist, clinical psychologist), for advice on the most appropriate type of educational setting, whether in a mainstream school, a special class in a mainstream school or a special school.
  • The recommended type of placement should be based on an assessment of the child’s individual needs and take account into consideration the child’s level of intellectual ability, the severity of the autistic triad of impairment and the child’s emotional well-being.
  • The professional(s) should also make recommendations on the educational and therapeutic supports appropriate to the child’s needs.
  • The Department will then advise on the educational provision that best matches the professional recommendations, in consultation with the parents and local schools.
  • If, following this consultative process, the parents wish the child to attend a mainstream school; they should apply to the school principal and supply him/her with the relevant professional reports.
  • The school should then seek educational and therapeutic supports from the Department and relevant health board, as appropriate.

Steps in getting Individual Education Plan (IEP) drawn up

  • If your child is attending school, the school should be asked about its arrangements for psycho educational assessment.
  • Psycho-educational assessment, in this context, is concerned with the identification of the child’s educational needs arising from ASD and from any intellectual disability. It is not intended to diagnose or confirm the existence of an ASD.
  • In schools served by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), the principal can request the involvement of the area educational psychologist. The school should be able to draw up an IEP for the child on the basis of the educational psychologist’s report and any other existing professional reports.
  • The child’s parents should also be consulted about the IEP, which should lay out specific objectives to be achieved by the child within a particular time-frame and should indicate arrangements for review.
  • Full details on the IEP process and guidelines for drawing up an IEP can be found on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie.
  • If the school is not yet covered by NEPS, the school may commission a psychological assessment under the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA). This scheme was introduced by the Department as a temporary measure to provide access to psychological, assessments for schools not yet covered by NEPS. Details concerning the SCPA are available on the Department website at www.irlgov.ie/educ
  • If your school-age child is not currently attending any school, the DoES will arrange for a psycho educational assessment.

The Law

  • Section 15 of the Education Act, 1998, requires boards of management to publish their policies on the admission, expulsion and suspension of students, including provision for the admission of, and participation by students with disabilities or other SEN.
  • This section also requires boards, in drawing up such policies, to have regard to principles of equality, the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents’ choice and such directions as the Minister for Education and Science may make.
  • Legislation requires that schools do not discriminate against children with disabilities in their enrolment policies.
  • Section 19 of the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000, provides that the board of management of a recognised school cannot refuse to admit your child as a student, except where such refusal is consistent with the published admissions policy of the school.
  • A failure by a school to enrol a child solely on the ground of a disability may give rise to a right of appeal to the Secretary General of the Department under section 29 of the Education Act and to the Office of the Director of Equality Investigations under the Equal Status Act, 2000.

Educational Supports

  • Students with ASD in mainstream classes may be supported through allocations of resource teaching hours.
  • The support of special needs assistant (SNA) may also be provided if deemed necessary on the basis of professional reports.
  • The role of the SNA is to look after the care needs of the student and to support his/her education under the direction of the teacher. Schools are encouraged to use their approved special education resources in a flexible manner so as to maximise the benefit to the students concerned.

Special Education Support Service (SESS)

  • Established in 2003 by the Department of Education and Science
  • To enhance the quality of teaching and learning, with particular reference to students with SEN. To consolidate and co-ordinate existing professional development and support provision.
  • To design and deliver a range of professional development initiatives for school personnel at
  • Local and regional level. It is intended that a variety of models of professional development and support will be used, including support teams at local/regional level, distance learning and on-line courses.

The National Co-ordinator of SESS is Joan Crowley O’Sullivan. School principals are advised to contact SESS to discuss with Joan the training needs arising from the enrolment of a student with ASD Further information, is available on the SESS website: www.sess.ie

Options other than Main Stream School (at Primary level)

The Department of Education & Science choice is to deliver what they call the eclectic model in one of three settings:

  1. ASD Unit in a National Primary School. Typically these classes have 6 children with ASD in them and the educational intervention is delivered by a National School Primary Teacher who has the assistance of a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) whose primary responsibility is to assist with issues such as toileting, arranging the child’s environment etc.
  2. A Special Needs School. The interventions are the same as outlined above but it is likely that your child, unless in an ASD specific class, will be educated alongside children with other intellectual difficulties.
  3. In a mainstream class in a National Primary School with some assistance, typically some Resource Teaching and an SNA. In our experience this setting is only suitable for High Functioning Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.

Issues

  • In all of the 3 setting described above there may be limited input from a Speech & Language Therapist (SLT) and Occupational Therapist (OT).
  • The amount of input seems to vary widely in different settings throughout the country.
  • A list of the National Primary Schools and Special Schools throughout the country who operate one of the three settings above is can be accessed on our website.

Twelve Pilot Projects

  • Funded by the Department of Education and Science
  • These Centres deliver intervention to the children through an educational philosophy known as Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA).
  • These centres of education, which on average have been in existence for 5 years or more, deliver intensive one on one (where necessary) scientific intervention to the children.
  • The majority of tutors in these centres of education have Primary Degrees in Psychology with many also holding Masters Degrees and Doctorates in Psychology.
  • These centres of education deliver both a longer school day and a longer school year to ensure retention of the skills acquired by the children and to prevent regression during the long school holidays.
  • All of these centres of education have been set up by parental lobbying and in some instances, court cases.
  • While there may be some slight variances in enrolement policies most of the centres of education insist that the child is between the ages of 2 years and 7 years of age at point of entry and will require your child to have an Educational Psychological Assessment which recommends an ABA placement.

Issues

  • The Department will not place your child in one of these centres of education without this report.
  • These centres of education also seek to employ full-time SLTs and OTs.
  • Unfortunately there are currently in excess of 345 children awaiting placements in these centres of education and there are 12 sets of parents around the country currently lobbying to have 12 more centres of education opened.
  • Should you wish to find a group of parents who are lobbying for more centres of education to be opened, please contact Colette at the National Office of the Autism Ireland.

School Transport for children with ASD

  • For children with special needs, who are enrolled in either a Special School or Special Classes within a mainstream school, not in their immediate area, there is a school transport service available, including an escort.
  • Bus Eireann operates the system on behalf of the Department of Education & Science. The school Principal applies to the SENO for the transport to be made available to the child.
  • If you are unhappy with the decision, you can appeal. Appeal forms are available from Bus Eireann School Transport Office.
  • Where school transport cannot be provided, and the parents/guardians of the child are able to provide transport, there is a transport grant available to cover the cost. For further details contact:

Department of Education & Science Phone: 0506 24351/2
School Transport Section
Potlaoise Road
Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Sitting examinations

Students in secondary schools who have special needs can apply for special arrangements to be made when they are taking the state examinations for Junior or Leaving Certificate. The supplication is made by the school. More information on the list of reasonable accommodations that may be applied for special needs pupils visit the State Examinations Commission website www.examinations.ie

Special equipment

  • Students who have been diagnosed as having serious physical and/or communicative disabilities of a degree which make ordinary communication through speech and/or writing impossible for them can receive a grant towards the purchase of special equipment.
  • The purpose of the grant-aid is to provide the pupils with equipment of direct educational benefit to them.
  • Examples of such equipment include computers, word processors, tape recorders, software etc. The grant has to applied for by the school and SENO and assessments/documentation are required to support the application.
  • The equipment remains the property of the school.
  • For further information and full criteria for provision of the grants contact: Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Policy Unit Phone: 01 873 4700

Assessment of Need