Jan 28, 2019, Irish Examiner: Dylan’s parents are learning the hard way that autistic children are not a priority https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/specialreports/dylans-parents-are-learning-the-hard-way-that-autistic-children-are-not-a-priority-900485.html Ian Diamond and his wife, Josie, have failed to secure a place for their autistic son in 26 schools and are unable to find a home tutor willing to stay long-term. Every day is a gruelling battle for their rights, says Michael Clifford…. Ian has contacted 26 schools without success, in an attempt to get a place for his son. There is a possibility of a place in one school, but it does not meet his son’s needs, although the family are grateful for that school’s efforts. A small minority of schools provide classes for children who are on the autism spectrum, but they have lengthening queues. Other schools provide nothing. Ian Diamond’s search has not been confined to the locality of the family home, in Walkinstown, on the south side of Dublin city. He has been looking right across the city, and concludes that the demand for a basic education for children who are on the autism spectrum is simply not being met. … “I genuinely think that people are totally afraid to speak out, for fear of losing what small bit of hope they have, or even some small amount of resources,” he says. … Before all that, there is the challenge of pre-school education. There are a limited number of pre-school ASD units in the country, all of which have lengthy waiting lists. … Despite spending his pre-school year in the local school, Dylan was out of luck when it came to places in the school’s ASD class for school-age children. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is the body charged with overseeing the provision of education for those with special needs. … Another search ensued. In this one, Ian contacted a total of 26 schools across the south side of Dublin, looking for a place for his son in an ASD unit or special school. Some of the schools don’t have a unit, irrespective of demand. Others had long waiting lists. In some instances, the schools didn’t even bother getting back to him. … In the meantime, the battle goes on. The daily grind of trying to obtain basic services for their children is part of life for thousands of parents who are forced to rely on nothing more than luck. … One of the reasons for this new law is there has been a reluctance by some in education — including patron bodies and boards of management — to provide a a dedicated class for special education. As a result, there are large areas in the State’s cities, in particular, where the demand for special education is not being met. So far, so inclusive. However, section 8 of the act has 20 subsections, nearly all of which represent a hoop through which the minister must jump before he invokes the new power. If parents, a patron body, a board of management or a teachers’ union, or other interested parties, want to stop a special class in their local school, they have ample opportunity. The hoops also give an out for any minister who may fear taking a political hit for going against the wishes of any of the vested interests. Being inclusive is fine and dandy, as long as nobody is discommoded, would seem to be the guiding principle. … The assessment must commence within 90 days of application and a report of the assessment furnished in another 90. The tight timeframe reflects the urgency given to early intervention. The experience of Ian Diamond and his family would not be unusual, in respect of the lack of urgency given to cases. Over a year after he applied for the assessment, on 28 August 2015, he had not received the report. He complained and his complaint was upheld. The recommendation by the complaints officer was issued on August 4, 2016, and stated that “Dylan’s assessment report is prepared no later than August 18, 2016, and issued in conjunction with his service statement no later than September 18, 2016.” The appointed deadline came and went and no report was issued. On November 7, Ian Diamond appealed the failure to implement the recommendation to the Office of the Disability Appeals. On December 21, 2016, the Diamonds were finally furnished with a report and service statement, nearly a year after they were legally entitled to receive it. The appeals officer ruled on the matter on February 7, 2017: “As the complaint’s officer’s timeline of September 18, 2016, has been breached, I must uphold this appeal. However, as the service statement has now been issued, I do not need to comment further on this appeal case.”
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Children today are noticeably different from previous generations, and the proof is in the news coverage we see every day. This site shows you what’s happening in schools around the world. Children are increasingly disabled and chronically ill, and the education system has to accommodate them. Things we've long associated with autism, like sensory issues, repetitive behaviors, anxiety and lack of social skills, are now problems affecting mainstream students. Blame is predictably placed on bad parenting (otherwise known as trauma from home).
Addressing mental health needs is as important as academics for modern educators. This is an unrecognized disaster. The stories here are about children who can’t learn or behave like children have always been expected to. What childhood has become is a chilling portent for the future of mankind.
Anne Dachel, Media editor, Age of Autism
(John Dachel, Tech. assist.)
What will happen in another 4 years? How can we go on like this? This is a national (and international) problem of monumental proportions. We have an entire new class of children who cannot be accommodated by the system: many are manifestly neurologically impaired. Meanwhile, the government and the medical profession sleep on regardless.
UK media editor, Age of Autism
The generation of American children born after 1990 are arguably the sickest generation in the history of our country.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
It seemed to me that with rising autism prevalence, you’d also see rising autism costs to society, and it turns out, the costs are catastrophic.
They calculated that in 2015 autism cost the United States $268 billion and they projected that if autism continues at its current rate, we’re looking at one trillion dollars a year in autism costs by 2025, so within five years.
Toby Rogers, PhD, Political economist
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