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(Ireland) Dublin: Protest planned over lack of places for autistic students

May 24, 2019, Irish Times: Frustration grows over lack of school places for children with autism https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/frustration-grows-over-lack-of-school-places-for-children-with-autism-1.3902271 Aidan Ennis (6), from Cherry Orchard, Dublin, will be almost eight before he finally starts school. He has autism, and his mother, Louise Lawlor, has had her “heart broken” by the news he will not have a school place this September. He cannot attend a mainstream school, as he has limited speech, violent tendencies and is not toilet-trained. … “But he needs to begin the education he is entitled to, to learn, to adapt and reach his full potential,” says Ms Lawlor. He has been refused by 14 schools “in Clondalkin, Tallaght, Palmerstown, Lucan, Walkinstown, all across the southside”, says Ms Lawlor, “because their ASD [autism spectrum disorder] units are all full.” And most recently she has been told there will be no space for him this autumn in a new ASD unit, due to open in Mary Queen of Angels school in nearby Ballyfermot. The school has confirmed all six places are taken, and “there is a real problem with lack of places for children with autism in the area”. It already “has a long waiting list”…. She is one of a number of Dublin parents who will take part in a protest on Saturday in the city centre, about the lack of school places for their autistic children. The issue was recently highlighted by the AsIAm charity in its Invisible Children report, which finds 54 per cent of surveyed parents of autistic children “felt lack of school places was the biggest barrier for their child in accessing education”. …