January 21, 2021

‘It’ just doesn’t add up’ – Wicklow schools need more autism supports, says TD

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly has called for more support for schools in west Wicklow who are in desperate need of additional Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) units.

Deputy Donnelly said there are currently 55 classes for ASD in Co Wicklow, but only 11 are post primary which means there is a dramatic fall off in places for secondary school students.

He  said he had been contacted by parents desperately trying to find help for their children.

He said some families were being forced to travel to Kildare to attend school while one parent has been told there is no ASD place available for their child this September.

Deputy Donnelly said it was incredibly stressful for parents trying to do their best for their children when there aren’t the proper supports in place.

He said parents in west Wicklow feel all the good work done by ASD supports in primary schools is being lost at second level because the same level of support or number of places simply are not available in secondary schools.

He said: “I’ve been contacted by parents who are having to travel to Kildare to attend school while others are being told there simply isn’t any ASD support for their child in September.

“I’ve written to the Minister to ask about the provision of ASD units to secondary schools and feeder schools in Blessington.

“They say the National Council For Special Education- NCSE, is planning to expand special classes and school places this year.

“But for some reason the Minister in his response claimed he was “not aware of any specific issues with special class provision in the Blessington area.

“Parents are being told to contact their local Special Education Needs Organiser- SENO.

“It’s not good enough that parents are being forced to fight so hard just to get their child a school place.

“West Wicklow is in dire need of additional ASD units but the Department seem to be denying there is any problem which is simply not good enough.

“I will be following up with the Minister to make sure the resources that are needed for schools in the west of the county are delivered.”


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