Autism/special ed numbers are exploding in Irish schools. Costs are enormous. Officials are scrambling for answers, but what they’re telling us is the same old, same old.
Good luck with that.
Reporter Carl O’Brien, in a truly hard-to-swallow piece, gives us lots of reasons for all the sped/autistic kids filling desks in Irish schools. After decades of neglect (since the beginning of Ireland, I guess), the government is finally doing something about disabled children.
July 22, 2017, Irish Times (Dublin): Why is the cost of special education soaring? Analysis: State is playing catch-up in education policy after years of neglect
Even though other countries had been providing this type of education for decades, the absence of any meaningful government policy meant thousands of vulnerable children were, in effect, left on a scrapheap.
Much has changed in recent decades. A series of landmark court cases taken by parents such as Marie O’Donoghue and Kathy Sinnott have helped prompt large-scale investment and rights-based legislation.
In the period since 2004, spending on special needs education has grown by 260 per cent. There are approximately 47,000 students in receipt of resource teaching (5.2 per cent of the school population) and an estimated 32,500 in receipt of care by special needs assistants (3.6 per cent of school population). This has increased from 3.5 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively in 2011.
Oh, so it wasn’t until 2004 that Ireland did anything about tens of thousands of disabled children.
So where were all these kids until 13 years ago? O’Brien tells us that they were in institutions or kept at home. (This is a claim very commonly made in the U.S. also.) And he notes that the population of Ireland is increasing, so naturally there would be more sped students.
That last explanation could hardly explain why 25 percent of Irish schoolchildren are considered special ed currently or why sped spending has increased 260 percent in the same thirteen years, but it works for O’Brien. He reminds readers that they’re not alone, since both the UK and Holland have 26 percent of children with special needs. (Ireland is just keeping up with the neighbors.)
O’Brien saves the best explanation for last: OVER-DIAGNOSING.
There is evidence, for example, of children being unnecessarily labelled with emotional and behavioural conditions simply to secure additional educational resources, a practice known as “dollars for diagnosis” in the US.
A new resource allocation model, due to be rolled out in schools from next September, should help matters. Under this system, parents will no longer need to secure a diagnosis for their child in order to get teaching supports.
There are also concerns about the cost and efficiency of special needs assistants, which have prompted a comprehensive review of the scheme.
This report, we are told, will seek to identify the “most appropriate form of support options” to provide better outcomes for pupils “having regard to the significant amount of exchequer investment in this area”.
This is always been the response when it comes to the explosion in autism and in special needs students—THERE IS NEVER A REAL INCREASE. It’s always something else. We’ve all heard the experts calling it “better diagnosing” and “a broader spectrum,” along with claim that these kids just used to be excluded from regular ed schools. Those weak explanations just don’t cut it anymore. WHY DO THE NUMBERS SHOW NO SIGNS OF LEVELING OFF?
There was an immediate response to the charge that there’s really nothing wrong with many of these kids—it’s just a way to get extra funds. It was from Jacinta Walsh, the mother of a disabled young man.
Irish Times: Nobody wants their child to be diagnosed with autism
A spending review carried out by the Department of Public Expenditure states that the Department of Education is to introduce a new system of allocating special needs resources to schools which will not depend on diagnoses.
It refers to the “incidence of inappropriate diagnosis and the unnecessary labelling of children”.
But according to Walsh, in 16 years she has never seen a diagnosis that was not warranted.
“Parents don’t go looking for a diagnosis unless they are really concerned. Nobody wants it for their child.”
Because there is no blood test or one specific test to diagnose autism, this can lead some to incorrectly believe that diagnoses are being handed out “willy-nilly”, she believes.
“The danger is a child won’t get the supports if they don’t have a diagnosis.”
For a child with autism, educational supports help to set the ground rules for their entire life and for this very reason are hugely important, Walsh says.
“I have seen people make huge progress. We have had children come in to us who were non-verbal who have gone on to do third level.”
I honestly believe that the move to disregard a medical diagnosis of autism ….
Under this system, parents will no longer need to secure a diagnosis for their child in order to get teaching supports.
…is not being done to get services for MORE children—the big problem here is the cost of classroom aides and special help for so many now—I’m sure this will be a way to lower those numbers. We’re sorry, your son’s doctor may say he has autism, but we don’t feel he needs extra help, will be told routinely to parents.
It all comes back to denying the root cause. There can’t be more autistic (or sped) students in actual terms. If there were more disabled children, they’d have to search for a real cause in the environment. And that would lead them right back to Andrew Wakefield, the Lancet paper, and the MMR vaccine.
This is a place no one wants to go. So they will continue to damage more and more babies with an unchecked vaccine schedule and to fill their schools with even more sick and disabled, all the while denying anything is wrong.
Ireland is doing to itself what no foreign government ever could.