Sunday 22 September 2019

Mum 'at her wits' end' searching for school place for son with autism

Four-year-old Adam Grainger from Clonshaugh has no suitable school to go to in September.
Four-year-old Adam Grainger from Clonshaugh has no suitable school to go to in September.
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

A SINGLE mother from Dublin has said she is at her wits’ end trying to find a school to accept her son who has autism.

Four-year-old Adam Grainger from Clonshaugh has no suitable school to go to in September.

His mum, Susan, told the Herald that only one out of 17 primary schools in her locality has an ASD unit – a class attached to a mainstream or special school for autistic children.

She said there are hundreds of other parents throughout the country in the same situation.

“It’s a massive issue and it’s the same every year for so many parents like me” she said.

“I’m at my wits’ end trying to find a place for Adam, but we were told not to hold our breath.”

Adam attends early intervention sessions at the Central Remedial Clinic in Clontarf through the Home Tuition Funding.

However, Ms Grainger believes their limited resources prevent her son from reaching his full potential.

“He doesn’t communicate very well and his behaviour can be very bad,” she said.

“But having said that, he’s a really lovely child who has come on a lot since he was first diagnosed.

“I know he will benefit so much if he was just given the right opportunities.”

The devoted mother said she is determined to do everything she possibly can to help Adam.

“I’m learning as much as I can about his condition and have attended numerous workshops set up by the early intervention team,” she said.

Ms Grainger said she worries for her son’s future if his educational needs are not met.

“Early intervention is key, and if he doesn’t get it right away then I’m worried how it will affect him in later life,” she said.

“What Adam really needs is to be enrolled into an ASD unit.

“My hope one day is that he will then adapt into a mainstream school.”

Ms Grainger added that many other parents on social media have reached out to her to share their similar experiences.

Niall Murphy, from Autism Ireland, told the Herald that the lack of ASD placements for autistic children is a widespread problem that the Government needs to address.

“One big problem is that the Department of Education can’t force schools to put ADS classes into them,” he said.

A spokesman from the department said the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is aware of the emerging need from year to year.

However, it said it is satisfied that Ms Grainger’s locality has an appropriate number of ASD placements.

“While it is not always possible to ensure that a special class placement will be available

in a child’s local school, the NCSE has informed the Department that, in general, they are satisfied that there are sufficient ASD placements at Primary level to meet existing demand in Dublin 17,” he said.

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