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Written Answers - Special Educational Needs

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 3

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 148.  Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  his views in relation to the written documented recommendations of a Health Service Executive psychologist in respect of a child (details supplied) with autism in view of the fact that the recommendation if implemented will save the taxpayer money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6290/12]

 155.  Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if he will provide this Deputy with details received of research completed that shows that an ABA approach is more effective in educating some children with autism compared with an eclectic model; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6291/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 and 155 together.

The Deputy will be aware of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that all children with special educational needs, including those with autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network and a school placement is available for the child referred to by the Deputy. Children with autism present with a wide range of needs. Some children are capable of being fully integrated into mainstream schools without additional teaching or care supports. Others are able to attend mainstream schools but need additional teaching and/or care assistance. [386]Many are best enrolled in autism-specific classes where more intensive and supportive interventions are required. Some may move from one setting to another as they get older and differing needs/strengths/abilities emerge. Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, fully qualified professional teachers, special needs assistants and the appropriate school curriculum. My Department’s policy on autism strives to ensure that a continuum of special education provision is available as required for children with special educational needs. In line with this approach the policy is to promote a child-centred approach to education of all children with special educational needs including those with autism. As each child with autism is unique they should have access to a range of different approaches to meet their individual needs. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers who may draw from a range of autism-specific interventions, including ABA, special needs assistants, and the appropriate school curriculum with the option where possible of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. This policy is based on advice received from international experts on autism, NEPS, the Inspectorate and the report of the Irish Task Force on Autism. In arriving at the preferred policy which is currently in place, my Department has considered published research, including the Report of the Task Force on Autism (2001) and the Evaluation of Educational Provision for Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (2006), both of which are available on my Department’s website. The report of the Taskforce includes a comprehensive list of contributions. My Department was also mindful of contributions of many others experts at international conferences/visits. The Deputy will appreciate that it is not appropriate to comment on professional reports relating to individual cases. The National Council Special Education (NCSE) has been fully engaged in securing a placement for the child in question. The NCSE continues to be available to the parents for assistance with regard to available placements and the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) have also offered their services to assist in this regard.


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