Dáil Éireann - Volume 625 - 10 October, 2006

Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on the provision of an ABA unit for autistic children in County Clare as part of a comprehensive policy to provide such units throughout the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31946/06]

  Ms Hanafin: The Deputy will be aware of my commitment to ensuring that all children, including those with Autistic Spectrum Disorders receive an education appropriate to their needs and in this regard my Department has established: 170 Special Classes for children with autism, attached [367] to special and mainstream schools; 5 special Classes for children with Asperger’s Syndrome; 16 preschool classes to facilitate the demand for early intervention provision for children on the autistic spectrum; 12 Stand Alone facilities providing an Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) specific methodology on a pilot basis. Approval has also been given for the establishment of a further two such facilities.

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 can mix with their wider peer group and have maximum opportunities for integration. Pupils with autism who are fully integrated into mainstream school receive individual teaching support for a number of hours per week as well as support from special needs assistants and specialist equipment if required. I can confirm that my Department received an application for an ABA stand alone centre from representatives of Clare Autism Action at a meeting held in my Department last July. My officials requested that the names and psychological assessments of the children proposing to attend the proposed centre should be forwarded to the Department in order to progress the application further. My Department is awaiting the necessary reports. I can confirm that a further meeting between representatives of Clare Autism Action and officials of my Department is scheduled for the end of this month.