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(Ireland) Call to abolish all special ed schools challenged by autism parent

Nov 20, 2019, Irish Examiner: Let’s get real about the kids who can’t do mainstream schools …Stop trying to shame us, please. Stop trying to tell the 2% of school students who attend special schools or classes that they are being “segregated” instead of included. The National Council for Special Education’s (NCSE) latest emission is a progress report, including policy advice on special schools and classes which says the Government should consider the abolition of all special schools and classes in the Irish education system. This is not because the NCSE has found that students with disabilities ranging from Down syndrome with a mild intellectual disability to profound autism will all do better with Mary, Pat and Joe in the local mainstream classroom. They have not found this…. The NCSE’s attempt to abolish special schools and classes is based on ideology, not pedagogy, however. As they explain, the UN has advised that having a mainstream system and a separate special education system is “not compatible with its view of inclusion”. That’s very nice for the UN, sitting in its air-conditioned office. Provision for a child’s education should not be dictated by ideology, however…. Interestingly, no one was sent to the UK where special education provision is actually expanding…. My son is one such kid. He has ASD and a moderate ID and has been in one mainstream and two special schools. The sensory overload of a mainstream classroom of 30 kids in it constituted mental and physical torture for him. I will never forget leaving him clutching a teacher’s hand in the playground of his special school for the first time. Bit by bit, he realised he was going to be safe there…. Autism may be, in itself, a special case among special cases, because the challenge a mainstream classroom presents to a child with a sensory processing disorder can be such that no learning can happen…. While barriers to mainstream education should be constantly pulled down — and the provision of the Education (Admissions to School) Act 2018 which forces schools to open special classes if there is demand is positive — I don’t believe a school should be prohibited from asking if a potential student is disabled as will be the case from 2021…. Is disability now so shaming that we cannot even speak its name?


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