Reporter Adam Kula focused on Professor Laurent Mottron from Montreal as an “international expert” who disputes the current autism rate in Northern Ireland: one in every 20 students.
Mottron dismissed the rate as ‘fantasy’ and called it the result of “over-diagnosis,” and he said, ‘The definition of autism may get too vague to be meaningful, trivializing the condition.’
This of course is surprising since we’ve all been forced-fed the claim that all ever-increasing autism is always the result of BETTER DIAGNOSING/GREATER AWARENESS. It seems the experts are still getting it wrong.
HOLD ON. There are those who dispute the idea that we’re watering down the definition of autism.
The piece cited Jill Escher, the president of the National Council on Severe Autism, who challenged Mottron on the validity of the one in 20 rate for autism. She said, ‘It boggles my mind that it is not the subject of the highest possible alarm and inquiry.’
Reporter Kula raised the question of the disparity between the rate in Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.
This story first reared its head on May 24, when by Mark Baker, head of the Controlled Schools’ Support Council (CSSC), gave evidence to the House of Commons' Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.
"One in 20 children in Northern Ireland of school age has a diagnosis of autism," he told MPs.
"[It is] one in 57 in the rest of the UK. The need in Northern Ireland is significantly different."
To put that in perspective, that would mean 5% of Northern Irish children are diagnosed with autism, compared with 1.8% in the rest of the UK.
I immediately thought of all the articles I’ve posted on Loss of Brain Trust that clearly show a massive failure throughout the UK to get these kids assessed.
One in 57 in England, Scotland and Wales is the direct result of waitlists extending for years just to get an assessment of a disability like autism.
Here is a sample of stories about the waitlists for ASD diagnosis.
Somerset, ENGLAND, ITV: Somerset SEND children out of school for months amid wait for care plans
Parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities say they have been let down by Somerset Council.
Natasha Holden's children have ADHD and autism. One has an education health and care plan (EHCP) to access support, the other does not and has been at home since January.
"I know at least eight or 10 children that are not in education at the moment, because they're either in the EHCP process that's taking too long,…
More than 280 Somerset families have come together to support each other with obtaining EHCPs….
Darlington, ENGLAND, ITV News: Darlington mum says waiting four years for an autism assessment is 'heartbreaking'
More than 10,000 children in the Tyne Tees region are currently waiting for an autism assessment.
The data from NHS England shows that in March 2023, 10,385 children in the North East and North Yorkshire had an open suspected autism referral.
84% of those children are waiting longer than the 13-week target time for their first appointment.
Guidance from NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence states that no-one should wait longer than three months between being referred and first being seen.
The data also shows there has been rise of 2,365 children waiting for an assessment since March 2022- a 29% increase.
Tipton, ENGLAND, TES: The long wait for education, health and care plan applications to be processed not only denies pupils with special educational needs the right support, it also puts massive strain on schools’ budgets, as this headteacher explains
Leaders in schools around the country will know how many pressures we face at present: huge funding gaps, challenging student behaviours and increasing numbers of children with special needs to name just a few….
In fact, there is a huge backlog waiting to be assessed and agreed, and some children will finish school before a decision is made….
Wales: In Your Area: Urgent call for action on autism and ADHD assessment waiting times in Wales
More than 9,000 children are currently waiting for an autism or ADHD assessment in Wales.
The Welsh government has said it is working to address gaps in support, as of the 9,014 children on the waiting list in Wales, more than a third - 3,331 - have been waiting for over a year.
Bristol, ENGLAND, itv.com: Parents of children with autism in Bristol have branded new rules on who can be referred for diagnosis assessments as "discriminatory, naive, and dangerous".
Children must now be in 'crisis' before being placed on a two-year NHS waiting list to be seen by healthcare provider Sirona - which runs services in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
- Sussex, ENGLAND: According to ESCC, the number of school aged children and young people aged 4 to 19 in East Sussex with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) has been rising steeply in recent years, by 12% from 2018 to 2022. The group with the biggest increase is those with ASD.
Cllr MacCleod added: “More does need to be done across East Sussex as currently the waiting list for an autism referral is more than 2 years,
Essex, ENGLAND: From data from September 2022 show health services in Essex have approximately 4 000 children who are awaiting specialist autism assessment.
WOULD Dr. Mottron slam the numbers from Ireland which are almost exactly what Northern Ireland shows?
….the Department of Health reveal that 14,000 children between the ages of four and 15 have an autism diagnosis - around 4.7 per cent of the school population. [ONE IN 21 CHILDREN]
This is four times higher than the figure of just 1.2 per cent 10 years ago.
WHAT about the accepted numbers out of California? There it’s one in every 22 kids according to the CDC’s own numbers.
Mottron and other experts like him who promote the idiotic claim that autism ISN’T increasing at an unsustainable rate may try to delude themselves and others who listen to them that nothing is really wrong, but the truth is everywhere.
LOOK at the special education numbers in the U.K. and Ireland.
Dec 13, 2022, Scottish Daily Express: SNP ministers accused of 'shamefully neglecting' Scottish education amid raft of damning figures
Figures released on Tuesday showed the number of pupils with ASN, such as autism, dyslexia and mental health problems in 2022 reached a record high of 241,639. The number represents around 34.2 per cent of the pupil population, rising from 118,011 in 2012.
This number is certainly going to keep on increasing.
Just two years earlier, in December, 2020, the Glasgow Times
announced: THE Scottish Government has been urged to increase funding for children with additional support needs (ASN) as the number of pupils has again increased.
Official statistics show the number of ASN pupils increased from 215,897 to 226,838 between 2019 and 2020, a jump of 1.4%.
The proportion of ASN pupils among the student population has also increased to 32.3% from 30.9%.”
Meanwhile in Northern Ireland just last year we were told that almost 25 percent of students have special needs.
Ms White said one of the biggest concerns among members is the special educational needs sector, which was "in deep crisis before the pandemic". "The scale of that crisis is now unquantifiable," she said.
"Around 80,000 school-age children in Northern Ireland have some form of special needs, almost a quarter of all pupils. More than 18,000 of those have a statement. However, it is likely the statementing figure should be higher. For instance, last year almost 4,500 children were waiting for an autism assessment.
"So in truth the scale of unmet need is currently unknown while schools are expected to struggle on themselves without the capacity to provide proper support for children with increasingly complex social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.
WHAT is happening in our schools real, and autism is not a fad diagnosis
Schools have to address the needs of students who can’t learn or behave as students have always been expected to. These aren’t imaginary or exaggerated problems they’re seeing everywhere in schools.
This is especially evident in the U.K. in the stories about expanding special ed departments in mainstream schools and building whole schools for those students who can’t function in a regular school.
HERE is a recent sample of a growing disaster.
Newport, WALES: The city council is set to approve plans for a specialist centre for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to open at Llanwern High School in September….
The council said the new unit was necessary because of a rise in the number of children diagnosed with ASD.
Southampton, ENGLAND: The council is committed to expanding successful Special Educational Needs provisions where possible to meet demand. Developing places within the city will mean that children and young people are able to have their needs accommodated locally which will also reduce the need to rely on high-cost and out-of-city placements. For any school to increase their capacity by 10% or more it must follow a procedure set out by the Department for Education.
There is an urgent need to increase the number of special school places in Southampton, due to an increase in need and demand.
Vermont School is currently a 50-place Special School for primary aged pupils with Social, Emotional, Mental Health (SEMH) needs. The Council is planning to increase the capacity of the school to accommodate 76 pupils. …
Great Oaks School is currently a 325-place Special School for 11-18-year-olds with complex needs. The Council is proposing to increase the capacity of the school to accommodate 150 additional pupil places onto a neighbouring site of Vermont School. It is also proposed to increase the facilities on one of Great Oaks' existing sites at Green Lane, Redbridge. This will provide an additional 27 spaces. It is expected that there will be a final overall capacity of 500 places at Great Oaks School….
Liverpool, ENGLAND: About 500 new school places are set to be created in Liverpool as part of a £20m [$25M] investment into the city's special educational needs provision.
The places will be created at four sites across the city.
Over the last four years the number of children in the region with educational health care plans (EHCPs) has risen by 50% to more than 4,000….
Ms Bennett, cabinet member for employment, educational attainment and skills, said hundreds of specialist placements will be created in time for the new school year, with up to 500 more over the next five years.
"It's not just a Liverpool problem and we will continue to work hard to create the right places for children," she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
The scheme will see the creation of 40 spaces at the current Palmerston School site in Woolton for the start of the new term in September, with a further 75 in a second phase.
A further 60 places will be created at Bank View South from later this year on the site of the former Parklands school in Speke.
Malvern, ENGLAND: A specialist college for young people with autism has appointed a new principal.
Jonathan Bell has taken over at Bankside College, which caters for autistic people aged 16-25 as well as young people with learning difficulties and other complex needs…
“The state-of-the-art new school will share our site and cater for 60 pupils….
With demand increasing for specialist further education provision the college, part of Options Autism, welcomes students from across Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, the West Midlands and Warwickshire.
“Our purpose built sensory rooms, small class-sizes and 1-1 assistance, ensure our students’ sensory and therapeutic needs are met,” said Mr Bell.
Earlier this year, the county council announced plans to create a free school for pupils with autism at the Sunshine Children's Centre in Poolbrook, Malvern.
It will provide 120 places for pupils aged 5-19. It is not yet known who will run the facility, as free schools aren't run by the local authority.
NORTHERN IRELAND: An additional 200 classes are needed for September to meet the demand for school places for children with special educational needs (SEN).
That is according to an internal letter sent to Education Authority (EA) staff that has been seen by BBC News NI.
The authority has asked for almost 90 of its workers in other jobs to volunteer to move to work in SEN support.
It cites staff shortages as the reason.
Restrictions on early years support for children during the Covid-19 pandemic is one reason for the "significant" rise in demand, according to the authority.
Hertfordshire, ENGLAND: "Our Special School Place Planning Strategy 2020-23 sets out our commitment and investment to create over 300 new permanent special school places, and the development of a countywide pattern of specialist resource provision in mainstream schools.
"Our commitment to inclusion has also significantly increased our investment into SEND funding in mainstream schools across the county from £9.5m [$11.8M ]to £17.5m [$21.7M] this year.
Skelmersdale, ENGLAND: Councillors are expected to approve plans to expand and increase the number of school places at Kingsbury Primary School in Skelmersdale next week.
The co-educational special school is proposing to create 30 additional places, increasing the number of places to 120….
Cllr Jayne Rear, cabinet member for education and skills at Lancashire County Council, said: "We identified some time ago the need for special school places across the county and have been working hard to create more places to meet the demand….
- Yorkshire, ENGLAND: North Yorkshire County Council is set to consult on a proposal to open a school for children with autism at the site of the former Woodfield Community Primary School in Harrogate.
Councillors agreed earlier this week to further explore the proposed project, which would provide school places for children and young people with autism in North Yorkshire.
A total of £3.5 million [$4.4M] has been earmarked to allow potential upgrading of the site to enable it to cater for up to 80 pupils with autism aged between 11 and 19.
The decision comes as children and young people in North Yorkshire with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are set to benefit from a £20 million [$25M] investment, which includes the creation of new places in Special Schools and mainstream SEN Resource Bases.
The Council says since 2016, the number of children and young people with identified SEND and an education, health and care plan (EHCP) has increased by over 110 per cent in North Yorkshire. As this trend continues, it is estimated that an additional capacity of 350 SEND school places will be required to be developed over the next three to five years….
Chard, ENGLAND: A former day centre near a Somerset hospital will be transformed into a special needs school if new plans are approved….
SEND provider 3 Dimensions Ltd., which runs the existing school at Chardleigh House north-west of Chard, has applied to Somerset Council to turn the day centre into a satellite site for up to 30 pupils between the ages of 7 and 19.
A spokesman for Alder King Planning (representing the school) said: “The school supports children with social, emotional and mental health needs including autism. The school was rated ‘good’ with outstanding features by Ofsted in 2022.
“It is proposed that the two sites will sit under a single school registration and leadership team. It is anticipated that up to 30 children will be educated at the Laurel Centre.….
Herefordshire, ENGLAND: Three Herefordshire schools will get an autism base, following a decision by Herefordshire Council.
…it is evident that there will be a need for a significant expansion in the number of specialist primary mainstream autism base places and we will need this additional capacity from September 2023.
“The county has also had a high level of demand from parents who are seeking secondary specialist autism base provision as their children move from primary school to secondary school.”
Herefordshire Council has approved plans for the addition of an autism base at Leominster Primary School, Earl Mortimer College and Aylestone School.
Bristol, ENGLAND: Special needs education and children in care are costing Bristol City Council millions of pounds over its budget. New figures show how much extra money the council spent last year compared to how much was originally budgeted for, with some areas costing far more than planned.
Increasing numbers of children and young people in Bristol, and across the country, need extra support at school, while some children need to be taken into care. But the level of demand rose much faster last year than City Hall chiefs expected in the annual council budget….
Councillor Craig Cheney, deputy mayor responsible for finance, said: “The main financial challenge for schools is the high needs block, which has an in-year overspend of £16.2 million [$20M], resulting from an increase in education, health and care plans.”
Many parents and carers in Bristol face months of delays to securing an education, health and care plan for their children — and an increasing number are now taking the council to court, unhappy with special educational needs provision. The council also makes top-up payments to schools and pupil referral units for children with special educational needs.
Another area causing overspend is children looked after by the council, who have been taken into care. Last year the children and families service spent £6.5 million [$8M] more than its £85.8 million [$107M] budget. Half of this budget was spent on placements for children in care — including £15,612,000 [$19M] on very expensive out-of-county placements, where children are sent to a home outside of Bristol.
Nuneaton, ENGLAND: £2.7m [$3.4M] vocational expansion plans for SEND Nuneaton school….
A school for children with special educational needs will relocate its post-16 education two miles away to boost capacity….
Oak Wood School provides education for children and young adults with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) and autism, covering an age range from four to 19.
Newcastle, ENGLAND: A special school in Newcastle is set for a major expansion, in a bid to keep up with rapidly escalating demand for places.
The move comes after warnings that more than 300 more school places for autistic youngsters will be needed in Newcastle over the coming years, with Newcastle City Council having previously stated that a completely new special school will need to be built.
New plans lodged with Newcastle City Council would see six new classrooms built for Thomas Bewick School, on what is currently a derelict section of the adjacent former All Saints College.
The expansion into a new block would give the school, in West Denton, space for between 48 and 56 extra pupils when the work is completed….
The number of pupils in Newcastle identified with special educational needs has jumped from 6,262 in 2016/17 to 6,618 in 2020/21, while the number of autistic youngsters enrolled at Thomas Bewick has risen from 53 when it opened in 1999 to more than 300 now.
Tameside, ENGLAND: A new school building for children with special educational needs and disabilities in Tameside will cost nearly £10m [$12M] more and open a year later than planned….
The total cost of the scheme has now increased to £22.76m [$28M], the extra funding for which will come from the education capital funding budget.
Thornbury, ENGLAND: CONSTRUCTION has begun on a new special school near Thornbury. Specialist school Two Bridges Academy, located on Vattingstone Lane in Alveston next to Marlwood School, will have approximately 112 spaces for pupils.
Places will be available for children and young people from nursery to sixth form who have severe, profound, or multiple learning difficulties, as well as students who have severe learning difficulties and autism.
Blidworth, ENGLAND: Plans have been submitted seeking permission to create a new facility for children outside of mainstream education.
“In summary they have said, ‘Pollyteach provides high-quality one-to-one and group work for young people who are disengaged from mainstream education.
“Combining social work, with teaching practice and youth work, we provide bespoke learning programmes to young people with a range of emotional, social and behavioural difficulties that make it difficult for them to attend school’.”
Bollyinside, NORTHERN IRELAND: There will be a shortage of places for pupils in special schools when the new school term begins in September, as highlighted by a letter sent by the Education Authority (EA) to school principals and governors. The EA committee has been told that more than 850 additional places are needed in special schools….
The EA’s letter to heads and governors states that there was a 15% rise in the number of children with a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) seeking a school place in 2023. To cope with those numbers, special schools also need an additional 76 classrooms by September 2023. However, the committee heard that, at present, only 18 of those extra classrooms were confirmed for the start of the new school year. An additional 49 classes will be needed in mainstream schools.
Kent, ENGLAND: A former head teacher has warned of "a massive crisis" in Kent's schools as funding issues look to force a major shake-up in special needs provision.
Kent County Council (KCC) recently had to be bailed out on its special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) budget by the government.
Whitehall has said it will pick up £140m [$176M] of its £147m [$185M] overspend but told the authority it must bring its budgets into line quickly and ordered a major shake-up of where children with SEND are taught.
It will mean it will be far harder for parents to secure a special school place and that many more children with a number of conditions will, instead, be put into mainstream schools.
Bassett, ENGLAND: …opened new learning facilities thanks to a £40,000 [$50K] cash donation.
Vermont School, based just off Winchester Road, has received a brand-new outdoor play area and sensory room. As part of a special project in partnership with Barratt and David Wilson Homes, the new facilities – which are vital to support the pupils’ Education, Health and Care Plans – can now be enjoyed.
After returning to school from their Easter break, Head Teacher, Maria Smyth, said the children, who experience social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties, are already benefiting from their new learning spaces….
She said: “The school currently admits children aged from 5-11 who have a primary social, emotional, and mental health difficulty. Many pupils have Autism, ADHD, attachment difficulties and early developmental trauma.
“Over the last eight years the Vermont family has increased from 28 pupils to 50. …
- Cheshire, ENGLAND: A care home for children with severe learning disabilities could be converted into a day school for South Cheshire youngsters with social, emotional and mental health needs, writes Belinda Ryan….
“The school would have a registered maximum capacity of 24 pupils between the ages of seven to 19.
“Pupils would have social emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs and/or autistic spectrum conditions (ASC) and associated conditions.”…
It is anticipated the number of staff on site at any one time would be in the order of 10 to 12.
NORTHERN IRELAND: A spokesperson for the [Education Authority] said: “The EA intends to redevelop the old Dromore Central Primary School site and building for use as a special school or other specialist provision, subject to a business case, relevant statutory permissions and sufficient capital funding.”…
"After years of lobbying by myself, Councillor Paul Rankin and other colleagues, we welcome the confirmation that the old Dromore Central Primary School building is to be repurposed for use as a special school or other specialist educational provision.
"With more and more children having statements of special educational needs, there is a great need for such a facility in the Lagan Valley area to ease the pressure on other local special schools and units….
Derby, ENGLAND: Derby City Council has set out its strategy to increase the number of school places available within the city for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). The authority plans to increase its current 30 ‘hub and spoke’ places per year to 64 for the next five years.
This would allow special school places (spokes) to be provided in currently unused, or under-utilised space within mainstream schools. …
It would see the creation of: • 64 special school ‘hub and spoke’ places per year for the next five years across primary, secondary, and post-16 provision, increased from 30. • 10 additional special school places per year for the next five years (already agreed at Ivy House School, St Clare’s Special School and The Kingsmead School).
Burton, ENGLAND: A training centre for teenagers with special needs is set to open in Burton. The new centre, in Third Avenue, will cater for up to 30 special educational needs students aged between 14 and 19….
The new school will act as a "satellite" facility to Longdon Park School, in Hilton Road, Egginton, which already has a fulfilled capacity of 65 pupils and strong pipeline of referrals and future admissions.
Warrington, ENGLAND: WARRINGTON Borough Council still intends to develop a new hub at the Peace Centre for youngsters with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) despite a cost increase. The council’s cabinet approved the plans for the site in June….
She added: “Due to the increase in capacity needs, moving forward with this proposal will avoid further increased costs as we will aim to meet future capacity requirements in Warrington rather than placing children and young people out of area (where costs are increased with travel and with the use of specialist providers)….
The cabinet is recommended to ‘continue to support the council’s intention’ to develop a new hub for the ‘reprovision’ of post 16 years and post 19 years services for young people with SEND.
Members are also recommended to approve the projected increase in project costs of £1,896,000 [$2.4M] equating to a total cost of £8,376,000 [$10.3M], excluding the acquisition of the property, as well as approve the principle of the acquisition of the property at a cost of £1,367,000 [$1.7M] subject to a conditions survey.
Furthermore, members are recommended to approve the future development of the property to provide a new education and adult social care provision for young people 16 years and above with SEND funded from prudential borrowing and make provision in the capital programme to fund the project at a total cost of £9,743,000 [$12M].
Middlewich, ENGLAND: A NEW school for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is set to be built in Middlewich after a bid from Cheshire East Council.
The successful bid to secure Government backing means the Department for Education will now build two new special schools – one in Middlewich and one in nearby Congleton – which will create 120 places for children and young people from five to 19 years old….
The first school will be located at Cledford House in Middlewich and will provide 60 places for children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs.
Currently, around 25 percent of children with an EHCP have this need.
The second school will be located on the Giantswood housing development site in Congleton and will provide 60 places for children and young people with autism spectrum condition.
I could add lots more stories. These are just from the past two months, and the sad fact is, no one cares about this ever-increasing phenomenon. All the people at city and county council meetings who vote on these expansions and increased costs show absolutely no interest in why there are so many needy children that never used to be here.
The real mystery here is how complacent everyone involved seems to be.
Anne Dachel Is Media Editor for Age of Autism.
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