Dáil Éireann - Volume 649 - 04 March, 2008
Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.
Deputy Denis Naughten Deputy Denis Naughten
Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children with autism attending schools with ABA teaching practices; the number of children with autism attending non-ABA mainstream schools; the extent to which such facilities are required here at present; the timetable for the provision of such facilities; the steps she is taking to meet the educational requirements of autistic children; the timetable for having all such requirements in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8896/08]
Deputy Mary Hanafin Deputy Mary Hanafin
Deputy Mary Hanafin: The Deputy will be aware of my commitment to ensuring that all children 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. 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. As each child with autism is unique it is important that children have access to a range of interventions so their broader needs can be met.
In excess of 275 autism-specific classes have now been approved around the country at primary and post primary level by my Department in conjunction with National Council Special Education (NCSE), while more are being set up as required. At primary level there are a maximum of six children in each special class with a teacher and at least two special needs assistants. Extra assistants are provided where the children need them on a case by case basis. In addition, there are in the region of 2,100 children with autism who are receiving additional teaching and/or special needs assistant support in mainstream schools.
My Department is currently funding a number of ABA pilot schemes which was established in the absence of this network of special classes in our schools. These centres currently cater for approximately 240 children.
Dáil Éireann 649 Written Answers. Special Educational Needs.