No places for 15 autistic children in Dublin 15 secondary schoolsPadraig Conlon 25 May 2022
A CRISIS public meeting held last week called on the government to intervene in the secondary school placement emergency for children with autism in Dublin 15.
A survey of 100% of the principals of primary schools in Dublin 15 has revealed that at least 15 children have no appropriate placement at secondary level this autumn.
The survey also showed that, on average, a total of 42 places will be required at secondary school for children with autism in Dublin 15 every year – and there is not a single secondary level special class place available for children with autism in the area.
Síle Parsons, spokesperson for the Autism School Dublin 15 Group, told the meeting in the Carlton Hotel Blanchardstown last Monday (16th) evening that all these children and their families deserve to know now that they have a place in a special class in 3 months’ time and where that place will be.
“At least 15 autistic children in Dublin 15 are currently without an appropriate Secondary school placement less than 3 months before school starts,” Síle Parsons told Northside People.
“Where is the forward planning by the National Council for Special Education?
“All of these children have had primary school education provision, so it should be clear well in advance what their requirements are for secondary school, whether it be a special class or special school placement.
“Parents are again at their wits end and the students should know where they are going in September so a meaningful transition process can happen.
“Time is rapidly running out and the children are the collateral damage yet again.
“The newly opened and hard fought for Danu Community Special School is now full and will not be open to new enrollments for 5 years.
“9 Autistic children yearly will require a special school placement for secondary school.
“Where will they go?
“Dublin 15 needs a purpose built special school with onsite therapists that will accommodate all of these students and their needs.
“The system is broken.
“Time to be proactive, not reactive and 100% child centred.”
Síle said the Autism School Dublin 15 Group are calling on the government to:
- Arrange a meeting between the Department of Education, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and all the principals in Dublin 15 within the next two weeks. All of the principals together – Primary, Secondary and Special School Principals – have the information needed to solve the problem and actually plan effectively for this and future years.
- Ensure that there is a standard provision in all special schools nationally for the employment of full time Behaviour support, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy. Three new special schools have been opened by the State – two in Dublin and one in Cork – with ZERO additional support; it is beyond comprehension and is reprehensible!. Síle Parsons said that “A special school is not a building filled with additional needs children – the additional supports are what make it special“.
- Establish a Post-Primary Special School in Dublin 15 as a matter of priority. On average, a total of 9 places will be required at Secondary School level within a special school for children with Autism in the area every year. Limerick City, which has the same size population as Dublin 15, has 5 special schools. The only special school in this area is Danu Community Special School. It is currently at capacity and will not be open to new enrolment for 5 years. And to make matters worse, children in Dublin 15 are now excluded from enrolment in other special schools outside the area simply because Danu exists. The establishment of a Post-Primary special school is now an absolute necessity.
“The Government needs to take responsibility for this now,” Síle said.
“It needs to give the NCSE the clear direction and resources to implement a solution to the immediate crisis and to work with the autism community and all school principals to put in place plans to prevent this from happening year after year, after year. “It has become a form of State sponsored torture for parents of autistic children.”