How will schools sustain their programs as children who do not learn as students did 50 years ago flood the classrooms? Is there over-diagnosis? Sure, there's some. But I can tell you that schools do NOT jump to provide services unless pushed or it's patently obvious that a child has the need. Members of my home care team work in the local schools here in Connecticut. They see a flood of kids who are not toilet trained, can not perform simple self help skills, have disruptive behaviors and barriers to learning their ABCs and 123s. The older teachers are better equipped to work with this group than the newly minted teachers who are adrift at sea. And the older teachers are quitting or being forced out. Happy Monday!
By Anne Dachel
Before I talk about the big news about special education out of Ireland, keep in mind that officially in the Republic of Ireland more than 25 percent of students have special needs.
Dec 7, 2021, Inclusion at a crossroads: Special education in Ireland
It is now estimated that over a quarter of all students in Ireland’s mainstream schools have additional learning needs and/or disabilities.
And not only did they reveal that jaw-dropping statistic, but we were told that NUMBERS CONTINUE TO INCREASE.
Even more troubling is the fact that IN IRELAND, ONE IN EVERY 21 STUDENTS HAS AUTISM as of last December.
This kind of service is needed more now than it ever has been, as figures published this year by 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.
This is four times higher than the figure of just 1.2 per cent 10 years ago.
4.7 percent is the scary number of ONE IN EVERY 21 STUDENTS.
And in Northern Ireland, just over the border, it’s one in 20.
May 18, 2023, BBC News: Autism: Highest rate on record of NI children with diagnosis
One in 20 schoolchildren in Northern Ireland has a diagnosis of autism, according to figures published by the Department of Health (DoH).
One would think that there would be meetings of the Irish Parliament over this horrific news. WHY are there more and more disabled children in Ireland? HOW are we going to provide for them? WHAT if the numbers continue to grow like this?
No one has any interest in why this is happening and somehow officials have deluded themselves into believing that things can go on like forever.
Of course these children are real. They have needs that can’t be ignored. This is the latest out of Ireland.
On December 6th the media in Ireland published a number of stories announcing MORE SPECIAL SCHOOLS COMING VERY SOON TO IRELAND. To the casual observer this sounds like positive, progressive news, but look at the details.
Parents of children with special needs shouldn't have to fight for a school place for their kids, Josepha Madigan has said.
The Minister of State for Special Education was speaking as four new special schools are to be opened across the country are to be opened across the country.
The schools are to be opened in Limerick City, Enfield in Co Meath, Gorey in Co Wexford and South Kildare.
The schools will cater for young people with autism and complex learning needs up to the age of 18.
Minister Madigan told The Hard Shoulder the schools should be open by next September….
"We can anticipate where there is a demand and where capacity is needed….
Minister Madigan said she doesn't want parents to have to fight for their children….
"The amount of special classes we've increased by 59% in three years."
Minister Madigan said she wants the National Council for Special Education to get the funding it needs to employ more staff, suggesting it wasn't adequately resourced in the past.
"We managed to get them €13m [$14M], I fought hard for that in the Budget this year and the negotiations," she said.
"They're going to be able to hire and recruit up to 160 staff over the next few months, which'll really help parents ultimately….
'30 children per school'
Minister Madigan said the new schools should cater for about 120 children.
"Each school will probably take between 20 and about 30 children - up to maybe 34 - so about 120 across the four special schools," she said….
The new schools are also the first in recent years to be established in the regions, following seven similar schools in Dublin and Cork over the past four years.
Four new special schools will open in counties Limerick, Meath, Wexford and Kildare in September of 2024 to cater for a rise in the number of students with Special Educational Needs (SEN),the Department of Education has announced.
The schools will cater for children and teenagers with autism and complex learning needs.
The department has said the schools are being planned after analysis by the National Council for Special Education (NSCE) and the department found that the level of need in these areas could not be catered for by expanding places in existing special schools….
Seven new special schools were established in the cities of Dublin and in Cork over the past four years and children in some of them have yet to receive the therapeutic supports that they require, parents say….
"The staff are brilliant and they do the best they can but these children have challenging behaviours and they need therapies.
"I assumed the kids would receive therapy and that is why I wanted Charlie to go there but unfortunately that is not the case.
"His school is no different from a mainstream school with a special needs unit. The most we have is a sensory room."
A parent at Carrigaline Community Special School in Cork told RTÉ News that out of 48 students in the school just four are receiving therapies. Niamh O'Grady said only children who live in the school's immediate area are entitled to therapies through the local disability network team.
School Days: Four New Special Schools for Students Announced
Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TDhave today, 6 December, announced the establishment of four new special schools next year to cater for the increasing number of students with Special Educational Needs (SEN). The schools will cater for young people with autism and complex learning needs up to 18 years of age.
They are being sanctioned as early as possible as part of advanced planning to meet the needs of students with special educational needs due to start school next September. As part of this forward planning, four additional new special schools are being planned as part of a regional solution to benefit pupils and students in growing areas with special educational needs….
The new schools are also the first in recent years to be established in the regions, following the establishment of 7 special schools in Dublin and Cork over the past four years. These additions to the country’s existing network of 130 special schools is part of the expanded package in Budget 2024 for special needs education, which includes –
- Up to 2,700 new places for children with special educational needs.
- The recruitment of 744 extra special needs teachers, and 1,216 extra special needsassistants to cater for the increased number of students.
- Up to 400 additional special classes for the 2024/25 school year.
- The expansion of capacity in existing special schools around the country.
- 100 new teaching posts in existing and new special schools, plus an Administrative Deputy Principal, from September 2024, to benefit almost 9,000 children in these schools.
Furthermore in Budget 2023, additional funding of €13m[$14M] to the NCSE, has provided for, amongst a series of other measures, an increase in the number of special educational needs organisers across the country. This significant expansion of front-line staff in the NCSE, up to 116 in total, will ensure a high quality, responsive service for children, parents and schools.
Minister Foley said:
“As Minister for Education I am committed to having an education system that works for all.
“Throughout Ireland, the number of special education placements continues to grow year on year ensuring that children and young people have access to school places which are appropriate to their needs….
Norma Foley, Minister for Education, and Josepha Madigan, Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, have both been in the news in the past several years talking about MORE SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS and what they have to do to provide for them.
Incredibly, I’ve never seen where either of them have been the least curious about why these increases never stop. Instead, they continue to call for more accommodations in schools and more funding.
Of course none of the reporters covering this explosion in special education in Ireland ever ask the obvious questions:
WHY are there more students with autism and complex needs specifically?
WHEN will the increases stop?
HOW will Ireland support all these disabled children as adults?
Foley and Madigan and all the other officials never have to answer the hard questions.
So when the special education numbers reach 50 percent of students and when autism is one in 10 in Ireland, will anyone ask why?
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.
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