Saturday 1 October 2016

Summer autism school is 'risky'

Anne-Marie Walsh

Published 16/07/2016 | 02:30

The National Council for Special Education published the first major report on the education of students with autism in almost 14 years. This report follows an extensive research and consultation process. Pictured at a briefing to mark the reports publication were Mary Byrne, Head of Special Education, NCSE (left) and NCSE CEO Teresa Griffin. Photo: Iain White/Fennell Photography
The National Council for Special Education published the first major report on the education of students with autism in almost 14 years. This report follows an extensive research and consultation process. Pictured at a briefing to mark the reports publication were Mary Byrne, Head of Special Education, NCSE (left) and NCSE CEO Teresa Griffin. Photo: Iain White/Fennell Photography

A state-funded summer school for children with autism that runs this month could lead to "risky and dangerous environments" for students, a new report has warned.

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The study, presented to the Department of Education, found that almost 14,000, or just under 2pc, of students in Irish schools have autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

One in every 65 has been diagnosed with autism. A previous estimate in 2013 put the figure at one in every 100.

The National Council for Special Education's (NCSE) 'Policy Advice on Supporting Students with ASD in Schools' document says a 'July provision scheme' that is open to the country's 13,874 students with autism spectrum disorder is "much valued" by parents.

However, it claims that students' well-being may be threatened during the activity programme when new staff are recruited who are not familiar with their behaviour or medical needs, leading to "challenging behaviours".

It also noted that school principals are finding it hard to recruit teachers and special needs assistants to the scheme.

The study found that 63pc of the 13,873 students with ASD in the school system in 2014 were in mainstream classes, 23pc were in special classes and 14pc were in 118 special schools.

Education Minister Richard Bruton welcomed the first major report on the education of students with autism in almost 14 years. He said over €300m a year was invested in providing additional resources to support students with autism.

Irish Independent

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