Written Answers - Special Educational Needs.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 669 No. 2

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  436.  Deputy Richard Bruton  Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe   the discussions that have taken place since Dáil Éireann last debated the issue of wider recognition for the applied behavioural analysis approach to the education of children in the autistic spectrum; if he will sanction the approval of more schools dedicated to the use of this approach; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43447/08]

Minister for Education and Science (Deputy Batt O’Keeffe): Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  Officials in my Department have met on a regular basis with the relevant groups in relation to the commitment in the current programme for Government to long-term funding for the centres that are in the ABA pilot scheme subject to agreement with my Department on standards that will enable them to be supported as primary schools for children with autism.

I am pleased to advise that broad agreement has been reached on the core conditions to enable the centres to be recognised as special schools for children with autism and discussions are ongoing in relation to existing contractual arrangements.

I can assure the Deputy that my Department supports and promotes the use of ABA in schools, including special schools, as part of the range of autism specific interventions drawn on by teachers in the education of children with autism. What is important is that there is now a range of educational placements available which ensures that all children on the autistic spectrum can receive an appropriate education. Training and professional development in ABA, TEACCH, PECS, Social Stories etc for teachers in special classes for autism remains a firm priority for my Department.

The National Council for Special Education has sanctioned the establishment of special classes for children with autism in special and mainstream primary and post-primary schools across the country and it will continue to do so in line with need.

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