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The New Irish Famine: Help for Students with Autism and Their Schools

Irish school kids

Note: Here is just one take away from this article, and the same thing is happening here in the USA. Dec 1, 2018, (Ireland) Extra IE: 33 teachers took leave this academic year after being assaulted by pupils. Assault. Behavior. Students in pain and frustrated. Teachers ill equipped for this new normal. 

We'll be wearin’ the green this weekend, the Chicago River will flow green, the beer will flow from coast to coast as America celebrates St. Patrick's Day on the 17th.  Who can drive out the scourge of autism on Ireland's children?  And yes, for most, it is indeed a scourge.

By Anne Dachel

A recent story on from Ireland got my attention. It’s proof that those in charge will never recognize the decline of children. Sinn Fein representative Kathleen Funchion comes across as a champion of disabled students.  She’s adamant that more needs to be done for autistic kids in Ireland, all the while pretending that autism is a normal and acceptable part of childhood.

Mar 7, 2019, (Ireland) Kilkenny Now: Kathleen Funchion: ‘Why are autistic children being treated differently in Kilkenny?’ 

Sinn Fein official asks:

Why is there an acute shortage of ASD classes for secondary students in Kilkenny?...

Concerned parents have approached me over recent months over their fear that there will be no secondary school places in Kilkenny for their child when the time for them to enrol arrives.

This concern is not an arbitrary fear, it is based on parents’ experiences approaching secondary schools in our constituency and being told there is little hope for their child’s admission to a school that provides an ASD class or that the waiting list is full….

The good news is, autism really isn’t a problem. We’re just noticing it more.  We need to provide more room in schools.

…Every school in our constituency needs to acknowledge that diagnostic rates are increasing among our population and we must deliver for that changing demographic….

In fact, all the autistic children bankrupting Irish schools are a sign of progress.

We are fortunate to be living in a time in Ireland where these diagnoses are happening more readily and gone are the days of simply ignoring a child who appears to be ‘different’….

Funchion, of course, is presiding over the end of childhood as we’ve always known it. Her lack of interest in the explosion in autism (and special education in general in Ireland) is outrageous. It brings to mind the real meaning of the charge, “callous disregard.” Her pretense that the autism epidemic is just something we need to adjust to, defies common sense and endangers the future of the Republic.

Funchion sees the neglect rampant in Irish schools as one isolated worry that can be fixed with more places for kids with ASD.  Special education is the biggest problem in education in Ireland, but she is oblivious to it all.

Here are just some of the recent stories about Ireland that I’ve posted on

They  that should have the attention of everyone in the government in Ireland, including Kathleen Funchion. Schools are being overwhelmed by students who can’t learn or behave normally in the classroom.  Meanwhile those in charge tell us it isn’t happening.

Mar 1, 2019, (Ireland) Kildare Nationalist: Official opening of school's sensory room 

Acting principal Ross Dignam said students with sensory needs and self-regulation requirements will find that the features of this room will be of great benefit when seeking sensory stimulation.

“The room will allow a student to regulate themselves for a short period so that they can re-engage with their other learning activities in a more concentrated way,” he said.

Mr Dignam  explained that there will  be a maximum of three students in the sensory room at any one time, as the room is not for ordinary classroom work but instead will act as “an aid to self-regulation between learning activities” for the school’s pupils…

Ms Alma Carley, the school’s principal who is currently on secondment leave, designed and planned the room, where she used her extensive background in autism (ASD) research to identify the most suitable features for the room.

Sensory rooms are designed to engage users and help them to develop and practise a range of skills in a peaceful environment. Examples of these skills include hand-eye co-ordination, stimulating the senses and encouraging independence.


Feb 28, 2019, (Ireland) Dublin Gazette: Students on Autistic spectrum in 'inappropriate' setting, principals say

More than two-thirds of school principals surveyed in Dublin 15 believe they have students who are struggling to cope because they are in an “inappropriate educational setting”.

The system fails to cater for an increasing number of children with complex needs who are either on reduced hours or excluded from school altogether, according to data compiled by a group campaigning for an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Specific School….

Feb 27, 2019, (Ireland) Dublin People: Parents demand autism school

A GROUP of parents with autistic children who are campaigning for an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Specific school in Dublin 15 say the results of a recent survey backs their cause.

The group conducted the survey of primary and secondary school principals in the area and found 68 percent of them believed they had students who would be better placed in an ASD school.

They point out that school staff are generally not trained to cope with behavioural issues such as flight risks, self harm, sensory overload and violent outbursts that sometimes happen when autistic children cannot express themselves effectively.

Feb 18, 2019, (Ireland) Irish Examiner: Moving the goalposts won’t solve the problem of autism assessment wait lists

    The High Court heard that an application to have the three boys assessed was lodged in late March 2018. Yet nearly one year later, they are still waiting. …

Yet thousands of children are being denied their right to timely assessment.

According to HSE figures, the number of assessment applications not completed in the designated 90-day timeframe in 2008 was 1,143. By 2017, this figure had risen to 2,154. By October of last year, 3,662 assessments were overdue.

Inevitably, this failure to observe the rights of children is going to lead to legal actions for damages. …

There are at least 13,700 children of school-going age who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to a recent report.

Feb 18, 2019, (Ireland) Irish Times: ‘Problems with disruptive children are now endemic in our schools’  

Unfortunately, what is endemic in our schools now is the disruptive child. Equally, but frustratingly endemic, is a dearth of psychological support to ensure these children maximise the integrity of their school-based time and allow the majority of non-disruptive children the opportunity to do the same.

In reality there is hardly a school in the country which does not daily face disruption from a child whose behavioural needs remain as a memo on a National Educational Psychologist Service (NEPS) waitlist. 

Primary school pupils now include many with major psychiatric needs which require support for the child, his or her family and the school entrusted to teach them. …

The problem is now pandemic. …

 Feb 17, 2019, (Ireland) The Cork: Minister must clarify situation with SNAs  

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South West Margaret Murphy O’Mahony says changes to SNA allocation is leaving schools and children behind.

Parents of pupils at two Cork schools protested outside the headquarters of the National Council for Special Education over cuts to SNA numbers earlier this week.

Deputy Murphy O’Mahony said, “Parents are worried that their children are being left behind. As more and more children are diagnosed with special education needs, the reality is that this is not being followed by increased allocations.


Feb 14, 2019, (Ireland) Irish Times: Teachers who do not support students with special needs may be in breach of law Department of Education issues warning to secondary teachers’ unions

The Department of Education has warned secondary school teachers’ unions that any move to cease co-operating with education support plans for vulnerable students could amount to a breach of the law….

The ASTI has maintained that while the Education for Persons with Special Education Needs Act (2004) includes a requirement for schools to provide an individual education plan for students with special needs, this section of the legislation has not been commenced.

The union said teachers’ professionalism and commitment to inclusive education was not being supported by the necessary resources and training.

It said plans that required subject teachers to collaborate with parents, external agencies and other teachers for each student with a special education need were “impractical”.

“The wider issue of teacher workload and initiative overload is not being addressed,” it added.

Feb 5, 2019, (Ireland) Dublin Live: Mother of boy with autism who can't secure school place fears families will be torn apart due to lack of support—The worried mum fears the strain is having a negative effect on many parents of children with autism  

A desperate mum who can't secure a primary school place for her autistic son says she fears families could be torn apart due to the lack of services available for kids with disabilities.

Cabra woman Rachel Power Gilligan's son Edward, 5, has autism and an intellectual disability. …

She said: "The pre-school can only hold him until June. His name is down for loads of primary schools but there's no places. My child, from June, is basically out of school."…

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: "Since 2011, the NCSE has increased the number of special classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,459 across the country now, of which 1,196 are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes.

"The NCSE established 152 new ASD Special Classes for the 2018/19 school year….

Feb 1, 2019, (Ireland) James McClean shows his class once again with generous donation to Irish school

“A lot of the children in the school have sensory issues and in other gyms the noise alone would cause a meltdown. A gym in our school would be heaven for our kids, they would be able to go somewhere quiet, being used by only a couple of people at a time.” …

Feb 1, 2019, (Ireland) Dublin Live: Autistic north Dublin boy forced to keep attending creche [nursery school] due to lack of school places

A five-year-old boy with autism still has to attend a crèche because there are no available places in any ASD units in local primary schools.

Finglas lad Daniel Rock's parents are worried that they will not be able to find a place for him by September, which will set his development back a further year. …

He said: "He has to move along this year. We've talked to anyone who would listen about a unit placing but there just doesn't seem to be any."…

He said: "Daniel's turning six and they're basically babies that he's in with but we've no alternative. He has to stay there.

A lack of places in ASD units is causing difficulty for parents across the city. 

"I've spoken to about 10 or 15 parents in the same situation," said Alan.

"If you ring the units that are in Finglas or wherever else, they can't even put his name down on the list because there's that many kids [waiting for places]."

He added: "There's more and more kids being diagnosed now and the services just aren't available." …

He added: "Since 2011, the NCSE has increased the number of special classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,459 across the country now, of which 1,196 are special classes for autistic children.

Jan 28, 2019, (Ireland) Sun:  'ABSOLUTE DISGRACE' --Kildare mum devastated after autistic son is denied place in local school and reveals he’ll miss out on making friends and getting education  

A HEARTBROKEN mum believes her autistic son is missing out on making friends and getting an education after being denied a specialised place in secondary school.

Benjamin Tynan, from Celbridge, Co Kildare, was diagnosed with autism when he was just five years old.

It means that Benjamin, 12, is unable to cope in a mainstream school as change, loud noises and large groups can distress him.

The sixth class student attends a specialised unit at Scoil na Mainistreach in Celbridge.

But unlike the rest of his classmates, Benjamin will not start secondary school in September as there are no places available in any of his local schools.

Devastated mum Siobhan Tynan, 47, said: "The local schools have two places for five children so they had to do a lotto system and Benjamin wasn't picked.

"There is nothing we can do. I have been emailing Ministers and I've heard nothing from anyone. They know there is a huge shortage of ASD units in Kildare, as there is all over the country.

Jan 25, 2019, (Ireland) Dublin Live: Celbridge mum makes emotional plea to find school place for son with autism 

Benjamin Tynan, 12, is a sixth class pupil and attends a specialised unit at his local school, Scoil na Mainistreach.

He is due to start secondary school in September but there are no places available in any of the local schools due to a lack of resources. …

The worried mum, who also has a son sitting his Leaving Cert and a daughter sitting her Junior Cert this year, has been unable to find a school with a suitable ASD unit anywhere near the locality.

"Autism is rampant and schools just do not want to open ASD units," she said.

"That's what it comes down to. They're unwilling to do it."

Jan 24, 2019, (Ireland) Irish Times: Special schools struggling to cope as pupils’ needs become more complex

Many school principals worried about behavioural problems and violent behavior

Principals at special schools say they are struggling to cope with the growing complexity of young people’s disabilities and behavioural problems.

A new survey of principals at the State’s 134 special schools indicates many are worried that highly vulnerable pupils are not getting the support they need.

There are about 8,000 pupils attending special schools, typically with mild to profound learning disabilities.

The sharp growth in the number of pupils with special or additional needs in mainstream education means many

 Dec 12, 2018, (Ireland) Irish Examiner: Special education teaching posts face cuts 

Education Minister Joe McHugh has been told by top officials in his department that there will be difficulties when it comes to assigning staffing allocations for special education next year.

A new allocation system was introduced last year, under which every school was given an overall entitlement of special teachers based on a combination of factors. These included pupil numbers, children with complex needs, scores in standardised tests, gender mix, and disadvantaged status. …

The new system was supported by increasing the number of special teachers by 900 in 2017 and by a further 100 this year, but no increase is planned for next year. The number of special education teachers in mainstream schools has risen by 37% since 2011 to over 13,300 at the same time that school enrolments climbed about 10% to over 950,000. …

Dec 7, 2019, (Ireland) Dublin Echo: School places for children with autism still a problem

ISSUES with securing school places for children on the autism spectrum is a common occurrence, according to Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart, who raised a question in the Dáil about a Dublin 24 family whose son is on the autistic spectrum and who was turned down by 24 different schools.

Deputy Lahart raised a parliamentary question, where he asked Richard Bruton, the Minister for Education and Skills, if he considered it “acceptable” that a parent in Dublin 24 had been turned down by 24 different schools when they sought a place for their child, who has autism.

Issues with securing school places for children on the autism spectrum is a common occurrence, according to Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart.

In response, the minister stated in part that: “The enrolment of a child to a school is a matter, in the first instance, for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school.

“My Department has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools and it does not maintain details of waiting lists in schools. …

According to Deputy Lahart, the issue that his constituent is facing in trying to get a school place for their child is not an isolated incident.

Speaking to The Echo, Deputy Lahart said: “This is a common across my constituency, from Dublin 24 to Dublin 6W.

“There’s a particular problem arising for parents of children with autism in respect of their post-primary education and the availability of the specialised requirements that they need.”…

Dec 1, 2018, (Ireland) Extra IE: 33 teachers took leave this academic year after being assaulted by pupils

A total of 33 teachers were granted ‘assault leave’ in the academic year 2017/18, with 31 of these incidents involving students with special needs, a new study has found. …

‘It is estimated that up to 25pc of the school-going population are students with special education needs,’ an ASTI spokeswoman said. ‘Internal school supports such as guidance and counselling were cut during the recession and have not been fully restored. External supports can also be difficult to access.’ …






Schools no longer fit for purpose for students with extra support needs, or staff with a severe training deficiency to be able to offer support during the school day ! Risk assessment nightmare zone with accidents and abuse of power of authority, just waitning to happen?

Not fit for purpose -- Sensory Rooms are not designed as an alternitive Quiet Room /Punishment Zone, for behavioural difficulties ,problems and issues !

History of "SNOEZELEN" Rooms.
History of Multi- Sensory --Special Haven .

Shelley Tzorfas

Give Ireland back to the Irish and remove their Pharmaceutical Handicappers!


Seems like an epidemic of autism to me but thank goodness its not a problem always been there just need more schools.

Hans Litten

The Irish Times Scoundrels have gone into pro vax overdrive:

Uptake of HPV vaccine against cervical cancer rises to 70 per cent, according to the Health Service Executive (Ireland will be cleared in 50 years via mass sterilisation)

Again and again, the assertion there’s a link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been debunked. But, regardless, misinformation, confusion and serious risk exists.

Again and again, assertion there’s a link between MMR vaccine and autism has been debunked

Bob Moffit

".... Sinn Fein representative Kathleen Funchion comes across as a champion of disabled students. She’s adamant that more needs to be done for autistic kids in Ireland, all the while pretending that autism is a normal and acceptable part of childhood".

At 80 years of age … I have witnessed a remarkable transition between what for centuries had been ABNORMAL .. suddenly become NORMAL in recent decades.

In my humble opinion … NORMALZING ABNORMALITY has become the NORM so to speak .. and .. if I had to blame a single profession for this practice .. that would be the psychiatric profession that has created "diagnosis'" requiring medications for what once were viewed as NORMAL CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT STAGES .. such as .. in my day .. a difficult child's defiance was dismissed as merely the "terrible twos" .. now considered "OCD" … opposition childhood disorder'.

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