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(Ireland) 18,000 autistic kids in public schools; "past decade has seen a proliferation"

April 19, 2018, (Ireland) Independent: School puts something special into education https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/education/school-puts-something-special-into-education-36817241.html Principal Joe McKeown is proud of his three special classes for pupils with autism, but he is prouder again when he walks in and finds one of the classrooms empty. … It's a tribute to the enthusiastic and highly skilled staff at the 368-pupil De La Salle primary school in Kilkenny City, and proof that the policy of integrating special classes for children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) into schools works. The past decade has seen a proliferation There are almost 18,000 children with ASD in Irish primary and post-primary schools, including 3,800 in special classes. ASD classes are not the only response to the educational needs of children with autism, but they are increasingly sought by parents. … Currently, there are 1,307 special classes of which 1,048 are designated for students with ASD, more than double what it was a decade ago, and The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) expects to open about 180 more next September. Most ASD classes are in primary schools and more are needed. With a growing pipeline of pupils who have had the benefit of them now approaching the end of their primary years, there is concern among parents about a lack of follow-through. There is no provision at second level in some areas. …