(Ireland) Schools fail to address needs of students with autism

Aug 7, 2017, Blackpool, Cork, Ireland, Evening Echo: ‘Time to make autism special classes mandatory for schools' IF schools can’t refuse to offer a student a place due to their ethnicity or nationality, and with legislation expected shortly to remove religion as a factor in the enrollment process, then why shouldn’t the same apply to students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? That is the view of Graham Manning, a Cork ASD programme coordinator and founder of Homeroom, a resource for the parents of students with ASD. Over the last year, Graham has met with councillors, TDs and department officials in a bid to end a practice he believes discriminates towards students with ASD. As he sees it, the current system allows schools to ignore repeated requests from parents and teachers to set up ASD special classes, despite a clear need. … As the gap between the number of ASD special classes between primary and secondary schools gets wider each year, the number of diagnoses of ASD is also increasing, he said. … Parents also accept mainstream places in schools with good ASD classes in the hopes some of the skillset and expertise will spill out, he added. "It’s seen as the least worst option." And if the situation is bad in Cork, there are other parts of the country even worse off, he warned. "The biggest issue anyone with autism would have, as a generalisation, by and large, is anxiety," Graham explained. Something as innocuous as another student being given out to during a school assembly could cause great upset, he explains, meaning that a mainstream classroom setting is far from ideal for many students with ASD.