Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
410. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has received an application for a specialist autism unit for County Mayo from concerned parents; the facilities that exist for persons with autism; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39620/06]
Minister for Education and Science (Ms Hanafin): 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. The preferred approach to the provision of appropriate education for children with autism, is through the primary and post primary school network, whether through placement in mainstream classes, in special classes or in special schools, a view that is supported by the findings of the Task Force Report on Autism.
My Department’s ongoing commitment is 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: 175 Special Classes for children with autism, attached to special and mainstream schools, 6 of which are located in the Mayo area; five special Classes for children with Asperger’s Syndrome; 16 pre-school classes to facilitate the demand for early intervention provision for children on the autistic spectrum; and 12 stand alone ABA specific units.
An application was recently received from the group in question to participate in the pilot scheme which has facilitated the establishment of a number of ABA-specific autism units nationwide. My officials requested that the 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.
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