| 4.6°C Dublin

Parents now 'less tolerant of disabled children in same class'

MORE than one in five people say they would object if a pupil with an intellectual disability or autism was in the same class as their child.

The disturbing statistic marks a growing level of intolerance of these children in the education system.

Just one in 12 said they would object when a similar study was carried out in 2006.

The findings of the survey of attitudes to people with a disability, released yesterday, also reveal almost one in four would not want a pupil with a mental health problem -- like psychiatric illnesses -- in the same class as their child, up from 21pc in 2006.

Just 48pc believe that children with sensory impairments such as deafness should attend the same schools as people with disabilities, down from 58pc in 2006.

Overall attitudes to people with a disability have become more negative since the previous survey, said the National Disability Authority, which commissioned the research.

Findings showed:

- More than a third of people with disabilities face restrictions socialising, and 31pc encounter problems job seeking.

- More than a quarter of people with disabilities said people's attitudes posed a barrier to taking part in life activities in contrast to 3pc who are able-bodied.

-; People with disabilities are twice as likely to be socially isolated from family and friends than those without the condition.

- Just 62pc believe children with physical disabilities should attend the same schools as children without disabilities.

- Only 37pc think adults with an intellectual disability or autism should have children, down from 64pc in 2006. Just 56pc say they should have sexual relationships.

- More than one in five say they feel disabled people's opportunity for 'living with dignity' was restricted.

National Disability Authority chairman Peter McKevitt said the survey shows the negative attitudes faced by people with a disability in all areas of life, from school to their neighbourhood.

Deirdre Carroll, chief executive of Inclusion Ireland, which represents people with an intellectual disability, said that the findings should act as a wake up call to the Government.

She said urgent measures are needed to stop people with an intellectual disability "slipping further away from mainstream society."

Irish Independent