To ask the Minister for Education and Science if there has been a review of educational provision for people affected with all types of autistic spectrum disorders including Aspergers at pre-school, primary, secondary and third level; when this took place; the findings of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.– David Stanton.
* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 6th May, 2009. Reference Number: 17551/09
Minister Batt O’Keeffe
There have been many reports and reviews conducted worldwide on educational provision for children and young adults with autism.
In its October 2001 report, the Task Force on Autism made many recommendations concerning broad educational provision for children on the autistic spectrum from pre-school through to third level. These recommendations provided a basis for the development of educational services and supports for children with autism including the establishment of a range of options for children with autism spectrum disorders, training for teachers in autism-specific approaches and interventions and early educational intervention. In responding to the recommendations, my Department has given priority to implementing the core legislative and structural measures required to underpin service development and delivery.
The Task Force on Autism in Northern Ireland published in April 2002 consulted widely with professionals, reviewed a wide range of literature on autism and invited experts on autism to address the group. It found preference for no single approach but concludes that single methods by themselves may not address effectively the triad of impairments associated with ASD. It concluded that the interventions should be child-centred rather than method-centred and should address the observed and unique needs of the child and any variation in these which occurs over time and across settings and situations.
My Department’s Inspectorate carried out an Evaluation of Educational Provision for Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) which was published in 2006. The report describes an evaluation of the education that is provided for children with ASD in a variety of settings nationwide. The elements of good practice identified during the evaluation process and in the literature review form the basis for the report’s recommendations.
This report makes a number of recommendations including:
– all children with ASDs be provided with a broad and relevant curriculum that addresses the triad of impairments, accommodates the special educational needs of the child, attends to developmental and adaptive needs, addresses the management of behaviour and provides curricular experiences that are concerned with the holistic development of each child;
– those involved in implementing learning and teaching programmes for children with ASDs should have a recognised teaching qualification.
My Department continues to keep relevant international research under review.
Uimhir:407, 408, * For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 4th March, 2008.
To ask the Minister for Education and Science further to her comments in Dáil Éireann on 13 February 2008 regarding her Department’s policy on the conversion of existing pilot ABA schools into special schools, the details of what this change in status from pilot scheme to special school entails; if a school (details supplied) in County Cork has applied for this conversion; if it has been converted to a special school; if not the progress in relation to this change in status; and if she will make a statement on the matter.- David Stanton.
To ask the Minister for Education and Science further to her Department’s policy on the conversion of existing pilot ABA schools into special schools, the details of what this change in status from pilot scheme to special school entails; and if she will make a statement on the matter.-David Stanton.
Minister for Education and Science (Mary Hanafin, T.D.)
I propose to take questions 407 & 408 together.
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 programme subject to agreement with my Department on standards that will enable the Department to support them as primary schools for children with autism. The issue is being actively progressed and my Department officials have met with the IAA on several occasions to advance this matter.
The centre in question has formally applied for special school status and officials in my Department are progressing this directly with them. Special school status means that the centre in question will operate as a recognised school with all the associated terms and benefits of being a school – including school structure, staffing and management and access to current and capital funding on an on-going basis.
Uimhir: 353, * For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 26th February, 2008.
To ask the Minister for Education and Science the position, views or opinions, of the National Council for Special Education on the provision of applied behavioural analysis education for autistic children; if she will outline same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – David Stanton.
Minister for Education and Science (Mary Hanafin, T.D.)
The National Council for Special Education has not submitted any advice to me in relation to the provision of applied behavioural analysis.
However, the Task Force on Autism advised that that my Department makes available a range of approaches a range of resources to meet the unique needs of each student with an ASD in all school settings. Advice received from international experts on autism, the National Educational Psychological Service and the inspectorate supports this approach, and autism societies in other countries also caution against relying on just one intervention. By enabling children in special classes to have access to a range of methodologies, including ABA, the Government is doing what we are advised is in the best interests of such children.
My Department supports the use of ABA and training is provided for teachers in its use. Children in special classes have the benefit of fully-qualified teachers trained in educating and developing children generally and who have access to additional training in autism-specific approaches, including ABA. The level of such training available to teachers has significantly improved in recent years and is a major priority for the Government. Children in special classes in mainstream schools also have the option, where possible and appropriate, of full or partial integration into mainstream classes and of interaction with other pupils.
In excess of 277 autism-specific classes have now been approved around the country at primary and post primary level and the National Council for Special Education will continue to establish more such classes where the need arises.
At primary level there is a maximum of six children in each special class with a teacher and at least two special needs assistants (SNAs). Extra assistants are provided where the children need them. An individual child can have access to full-time support from an individual SNA if he or she needs one.