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Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 237. Mr. Crowe Information on Sean Crowe Zoom on Sean Crowe  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  the number of children who are on the waiting list for diagnosis of dyslexia here; and if he will provide a breakdown of this figure by county. [24378/02]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey The National Educational Psychological Service Agency (NEPS) has been mandated by my Department to develop a psychological service that will eventually be available to all primary and post-primary schools. NEPS is organised in collaboration with the clinical services provided and funded by the health boards.

Whilst NEPS keeps statistics on the reasons for referrals for psychological assessments, these are not available on a county by county basis. In relation to dyslexia, NEPS psychologists do not keep waiting lists in the sense of lists of named students who are seen in order. However, an important part of the psychologist's work is to assist principals and teachers to develop procedures for screening, identifying and prioritising those students who are most in need of help. The length of time that a child has to wait for assessment will therefore depend upon the severity of the difficulty observed by the relevant teachers. NEPS psychologists also provide a consultation service and, in many cases, rather than assessing individual children, will give advice to teachers on appropriate programmes and methodologies that will help to overcome learning difficulties.

The current situation is that practically all post-primary schools and roughly two thirds of primary schools have access to the NEPS service. Children in schools not yet served by NEPS may be assessed by psychologists from the Western Health Board or from voluntary bodies under its aegis. I am not in a position to provide detailed information about the health board services.

Pending the appointment of the full quota of psychologists to the NEPS Agency, I have also made funding available so that schools that do not yet have access to its service may commission psychological assessments from private practitioners – scheme for commissioning psycho[1068] logical assessments. Details of how to access this scheme are available from NEPS and are also published on my Department's website.

NEPS is currently examining the implications for its policy and procedures of the Report of the Task Force on Dyslexia.

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