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Professionals and their roles

Educational Psychologists

Educational psychologists deal with the psychological and educational development of people in the education system. This may include students of any age, their parents or guardians and the people who work with them. Their work can involve both assessment and intervention within the education setting. They are also likely to be involved in training and research on related issues.
Text taken from The Psychological Society of Ireland website

National Educational Psychological Servive (NEPS)

The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) supports the personal, social and educational development of all children through the application of psychological theory and practice in education. The service is organised on a regional basis with psychologists being assigned to a group of schools. Where a school doesn’t have an assigned psychologist, it can avail of a service from an independently employed panel of psychologists.

Psychologists work with teachers, parents and children in identifying educational needs. Where an individual assessment is required, it will only be carried out with the written consent of the parents or guardians. Psychologists provide oral and written feedback to both parents/guardians and teachers.

A psychological service is also provided to all schools in the event of a critical incident.

Text taken from the Department of Education and Skills Website

Further information for parents, including FAQ’s can be found on the Department of Education and Skills website Click here 

National Council for Special Education (NCSE)

The National Council for Special Education was set up to improve the delivery of education services to children with disabilities. The National Council for Special Education was first established by order of the Minister for Education and Science in December 2003 as an independent statutory body.

The Council consists of 13 members appointed by the Minister for Education and Science to act as the governing body of the organisation. Each member of the Council has particular expertise and experience in the special education area.

The general functions of the Council as set out in Section 20 of the EPSEN Act (Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004) may be summarised as follows:
  • Planning and co-ordinating provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs
  • Disseminating information on best practice concerning the education of children with special educational needs
  • Providing information to parents in relation to the entitlements of children with special educational needs
  • Assessing and reviewing resources required by children with special educational needs
  • Ensuring that progress of students with special educational needs is monitored and reviewed
  • Reviewing education provision for adults with disabilities
  • Advising educational institutions on best practice
  • Consulting with voluntary bodies
  • Advising the Minister for Education and Science on matters relating to special education
  • Conducting research and publishing findings

In addition the Council has specific functions in relation to the core provisions of the Act such as assessment and individual education plans.

The Council allocates additional teaching and other resources available to support the special educational needs of children with disabilities. The Council has a network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) throughout the country. They are the key contact persons for parents and schools for all issues concerning the organisation, co-ordination and delivery of educational services to children with disabilities.

Text taken from National Council for Special Education website

Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs)

The National Council for Special Education offers support for parents through its network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENO) within designated geographical areas. Each SENO has responsibility for specific schools, primary, post primary and special, within their area. In general, the role of the SENO ensures that a child with special educational needs receives the supports they are entitled to.

In dealing with parents of children with special educational needs, SENOs will keep parents informed of what resourcing decisions are being made on their child’s behalf. The SENO will also discuss any concerns that parents have about the present or future educational needs of their child. SENOs recognise that parents/guardians are the key stakeholders with regard to the child and are committed to forging good relationships with parents and parent groups. The SENO is available to parents to discuss any issues they have and to offer support and expertise. SENOs are also available to give presentations to groups of parents, advocacy groups etc.

Over the last number of years, a number of initiatives have been piloted with a view to identifying how a structured information process might be developed e.g. meetings with parents who are enrolling their children in primary or post primary schools, or parents who are seeking the establishment of a special class or home tuition for their children.

Text taken from the NCSE website Click here

Your local SENO will identify a school placement for your child, including pre-school placement for children diagnosed with ASD.  If they are unable to find a school placement then they can sign an application for the Home Tuition Scheme.

Information on Home Tuition scheme is here.

Contact details for your local SENO can be found here Click here

Resource Teachers

A Resource Teacher works with children who are fully mainstreamed and who have special educational needs, learning difficulties or disabilities. In general they will work with small groups or individuals outside the main classroom setting. Their work is challenging and varied and would include : –

  • Adapting conventional teaching methods and exploring alternative teaching methods to meet the individual needs of the child
  • The use of specialist equipment to help support the child in their learning if necessary advise and liaise with colleagues and other professionals, such as speech therapists and educational psychologists, in the child’s interest
  • Liaising with parents and guardians
  • Helping the child with work or learning concepts which they may have found difficult to complete within the mainstream classroom
  • Helping the child with self-esteem issues related to their disability
  • Helping the child with social skills difficulties related to their disability

The child’s eligibility and degree of need for resource hours – the time within the school week when the child is to access the Resource Teacher – is recommended by the educational psychologist and applied for by the school to the SENO.

Special Needs Assistant (SNA)

Special Needs Assistants are recruited to either a special school or a mainstream school, either fulltime or part-time. They are allocated to a specific child and, unlike the ResourceTeacher, their work takes place in the classroom. The SNA is a non-teaching member of staff, and their duties revolve around the individual need of the child to whom they have been allocated, by removing barriers to learning, whether they be related to the environment in which the child is trying to learn, or difficulties associated with the child’s specific disability. SNAs are requested and allocated in the same way and, generally, at the same time as Resource Teachers.

SNAs do not have to have any specific qualification but have generally completed an SNA Course. For further information on training courses for SNA’s contact

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Tutor

An ABA Tutor is one who works 1 to 1 with the autistic child, using the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis, under the supervision of an ABASupervisor and/or Consultant. They may work within a specific ABA Centre for Education, or they may work with the child in the home. The curriculum will be specific to the child incorporating the aims of the IEP and developing the child’s learning skills.

Home Tutors

Home Tutors are tutors employed in the home to provide an educational program for your child, usually while the child is awaiting appropriate educational placement. You can apply for the Home Tuition Grant from the Department of Education & Science to pay for this. Please see section on Benefits/Entitlements for further details on how to apply or go to to download application form and get details on the requirements for Home Tutors.

Home Tutors are usually hard to source but the following suggestions may be of use.

  • Advertise in the Education Supplement of National Papers
  • If there is an autism related conference ask if you can advertise there, or go to the conference armed with your details to pass around. Sympathetic organisers will sometimes put details up on the screen during the coffee/lunch breaks.
  • Word of mouth – talk to other parents especially those who already have a Home Tutor
  • Put adverts on the noticeboard in the Departments of Psychology in third level education centres/universities (with permission)
  • Place your details and requirements on the Autism Ireland Forum

When interviewing a tutor you may want to consider the following questions: –

  • Do they fulfil the criteria on the Application for Home Tuition?
  • What experience do they have of dealing with children on the autistic spectrum and how wide is that experience? ATutor who has worked in a ABACentre of Education will have experienced the wide variance of behaviours and abilities on the autistic spectrum
  • Have they any further training? If your child is using PECS, you would want your tutor to have had the PECS training, similarly, if your child has very challenging behaviours you would look for a tutor who has done a Manual Handling Course.
  • If you have other therapists coming to the home will the tutor work with them on programs for SLT/OT
  • How will the tutor develop programs for the child? Do they use ABLLS? (ABLLS is a tool used by tutors and autism specific centres of education to evaluate the child’s strengths and weaknesses and to record progress- from which data you can develop individual and very specific programs.)
  • Will the tutor take the child out of the home environment in order to generalise skills/learn lifeskills?
  • Will the tutor be happy to implement intimate programs such as dressing and toileting?
  • What equipment/supplies does the tutor expect you to provide?
  • Where in the home will the programs be delivered (the answer should be ‘everywhere’)
  • If your child is offered a placement, will the tutor be available to aid with transition?
  • Will the tutor guide you to continue with programs – especially self management and self help skills – when they are not there?

Covering the more practical issues, check the following: –

  • References
  • Request Garda clearance
  • What happens when they are sick/unable to come for a prolonged time period
  • What holidays are they planning on taking and will they leave programs for you to continue with your child to bridge the gap
  • Are they going to be responsible for their own tax affairs – ie, be self-employed
  • Do they have any insurance
  • Be specific about the hours/days/times you agree on
  • Be specific about method and time of payment