Search

(Ireland) 4,000 students waiting for ASD/SPED assessments

Updated: Jul 7

July 5, 2022, Irish Times: About 4,000 vulnerable children waiting on assessments to get school places Thousands of children need vital developmental checks to get appropriate education, Oireachtas committee hears

Minister of State with responsibility for special education Josepha Madigan says Government departments are working on how to increase the supply of therapists to better meet demand. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos



A shortage of therapists and delays in accessing vital assessments are undermining the rights of vulnerable children to an education which meets their needs, according to teachers.

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Autism heard there were about 4,000 children waiting on a diagnostic assessment to get a school place.
The HSE confirmed earlier this year that there was an average 19-month waiting time for an assessment, despite a legal requirement for them to be completed within six months.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) told the committee these delays were linked to the State’s failure to invest adequately in public services and inadequate workforce planning to anticipate current and future need.

Moira Leydon, ASTI assistant general secretary, said many families resorted to paying for private assessments which could cost hundreds of euro and this was leading to increased levels of stress and difficulties for families of children with autism. She said immediate steps must be taken to boost access to assessment services and called for a review of overall psychological services given sustained growth in the number of children with additional needs….

However, Máirín Ní Chéileachair, head of education and research at the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, said a lack of therapeutic services and other supports was placing an “intolerable burden” on families and on school communities.

She said pupils who needed access to special classes and early intervention required specific therapeutic support that was often beyond the remit of the teacher….

Ms Ní Chéileachair said it was regrettable that the increase in special classes at primary level was not currently matched by a corresponding increase in special class provision at second level. “This creates significant difficulties for pupils transferring from primary to post primary, particularly those who require a continuity of experience and support.”

Ms Madigan said the planning capacity of education authorities had been boosted in recent years, while there was a new focus on supporting the transition of young people with a disability right through the education system.

Minister of State with responsibility for special education Josepha Madigan says Government departments are working on how to increase the supply of therapists to better meet demand. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos