Apr 21, 2021, Irish Examiner: ‘Deficit of responsibility’ in addressing special educational needs of children https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40270880.html
There is a total deficit of responsibility built into the State’s education system, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has heard. “From the moment you get a diagnosis, everyone tells you what they can't do for you, and why you shouldn't talk to them," the CEO of Ireland's national charity for the autism community said…. Addressing the committee today, Adam Harris, who heads up autism charity As I Am, said children often have to experience "grievous breaches" of their rights within the education system before there are any attempts to reconcile them by the Department. “There appears to be a total deficit of responsibility in our education system. We need reform but the legislation only goes so far." The Department of Education should be “collaborators not gatekeepers," he said. “In recent weeks we have seen the impact a long history of government departments seeking to block the rights of autistic young people, as opposed to vindicating, has had," he said…. Too often students with disabilities are facing "an adversarial system."… “For autistic students… simply securing a suitable school place too often requires legal action or exhaustive advocacy work,” he said, pointing to the fact some 23 children in Cork are currently without appropriate secondary school places for next September. Securing a school place is often just the first “of many battles,” for autistic students and their families, he continued: "Securing required SNA or SET support, accessing appropriately qualified teachers and having your needs met and understood within the context of the school community are just some of the challenges which follow.” “At the root of many of these problems is under-resourcing, a lack of rights and appeals mechanisms and insufficient training and support for schools.” The Education for Persons with Special Education Needs (EPSEN) Act, which was the topic of the day, addressed many of these issues and concerns, Mr Harris said, but key rights legislated for through this act have still not come to fruition, despite the Act being implemented in 2004. Speaking on behalf of Inclusion Ireland, Ms Margaret Turley said the main pieces of the Act which would benefit disabled children have yet to be implemented…. A report by the Children's Ombudsman in October found that the AON system was leaving many children with a disability waiting "years" for services they require….