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(New Zealand) Herald: 1/5 students has special needs; it's greater awareness/no real increase

Nov 14, 2018,NZ Herald: Editorial: One in five pupils now need help with learning disorders Those who went through primary school 30 or more years ago probably have no idea what classrooms are like today. … The number of children diagnosed with a neurological learning difficulty has become a large proportion of today's young population, though experts believe there were just as many in special schools before "mainstreaming" was adopted. In the first article of our "wired differently" series which concludes today, educational psychologists told us 5-10 per cent of people suffer either from dyslexia, a severe reading difficulty, or ADHD, which affects their concentration and impulse control. At least a third of those suffer from both disorders. When conditions such as autism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder are added, the number of children requiring learning support in the classroom rises to 20 per cent.

The Ministry of Education is now employing 21,673 teacher aides, nearly one for every two teachers on the state payroll. That is a cost of more than $700 million, money not available for other educational purposes. Autism researcher Dr Hilary Stace does not think the numbers of children with learning difficulties is greater than it was before mainstreaming. "I just think there is more awareness, and schools are not coping." No wonder they are not. With one in every five children requiring particular support, every classroom must need three, four or five teacher aides. We can only wonder how the rest of the class functions with all this support going on, leaving aside the behavioural problems associated with learning disorders….

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