Dáil Éireann - Volume 658 - 03 July, 2008
Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.
Deputy Michael Creed Deputy Michael Creed
Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Science the changes he proposes to deal with applications by parents seeking ABA educational facilities for their autistic children; if he proposes to change the manner in which his Department has dealt with these cases to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26440/08]
Deputy Batt O’Keeffe Deputy Batt O’Keeffe
Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: 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. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers, special needs assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.
Children in these classes benefit from having fully-qualified teachers who have access to training in a range of autism-specific interventions, including ABA, TEACCH and PECS. These students have the option, where appropriate, of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. Funding is also provided for assistive technology and specialist equipment as required and special school transport arrangements may also be put in place. The establishment of a network of autism-specific special classes in schools across the country to cater children with autism has been a key educational priority in recent years. In excess of 315 classes have now been approved around the country.
An ABA pilot scheme was established in the absence of this network of special classes in our schools. The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government commits to the long-term funding for the centres that are currently in the ABA pilot scheme subject to agree ment with my Department on standards that will enable them to be supported as primary schools for children with autism. As discussions in this regard are ongoing between officials in my Department and groups representing the centres participating in the scheme the Deputy will appreciate that I can not comment further on this issue.
Dáil Éireann 658 Written Answers. Special Educational Needs.