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(Ireland) After 50 yrs Mayfield special school now sees 'increase in children with complex needs'

June 28, 2019, Echo Live: Our 50 year old school in Mayfield is ‘unique’ ST KILLIAN’S in Mayfield, a special education school, is celebrating 50 years, having been founded in 1969 by John Bermingham of the COPE Foundation. It was established because, at the time, a small but significant number of children presenting for assessment by the COPE Foundation were found not to be intellectually disabled but to have a learning difficulty. They were attending mainstream schools but were falling behind. Now, the school has 76 pupils (boys and girls) and is growing, with 90 pupils expected in 2021. There are 12 teachers trained in diverse delivery techniques as well as the principal, Sue Lenihan and 15 special needs assistants. … “Technically, we’re a reading school which means you just take in children with dyslexia. But there has been an increase in children with complex needs who are cognitively able and borderline average or above. “What we provide is quite unique. There can be a child with a combination of dyslexia and on the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). They wouldn’t have an intellectual disability. For some children, the context of the school they’re in doesn’t always suit them. That’s why they come to us. Afterwards, the majority go on to mainstream secondary schools.”… “A lot of the children coming to us would have anxiety. Thirty-six of our pupils have a diagnosis of ASD and Asperger’s Syndrome, alongside speech and language difficulties. So there are a lot of needs.” … She continued: “The school has grown and changed to suit the children we serve. Originally, it was quite small. “I think it started off as a Saturday school just for remedial purposes and reading difficulties. It has grown considerably.”… “We’re also trying raise funds ourselves for another sensory room. One sensory room is not sufficient for our 36 children with an ASD diagnosis. Other children, who don’t have ASD, also like to use the sensory room. It’s a nice place to relax in. … Is there over-diagnosis of ASD and other conditions? “Some people would say there is. But I think there is a lot more recognition of needs that were always there. They are now diagnosed and labelled. We’re a bit more aware now of different needs. They are not always seen. A lot of people have hidden needs.”

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