The EPSEN act 2004 needs to be enacted to protect the right for every child with Special Education needs to access a supported education which promotes integration and inclusion throughout their education.

The EU Charter of right (2010) state article 26 Integration of persons with disabilities: -The union recognises and respects the right of persons with disabilities to benefit from measures designed to ensure independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community.

We voted overwhelmingly recently for a yes Vote for Equality for LGBT in the Civil Marriage Referendum but we still have much inequality in our Great country. People with Disability are among the most disadvantaged, Vulnerable and marginalized citizens in our country despite a lot of progress in the last 20 years.

The 2014 statistics show that Diagnosis of Children with ASD is 1 in 68.

Lucan Autism Network is a parent to parent support group. They undertook research which they completed in April 15 The report is very detailed and I am just highlighting some parts of it. The research found:

  • Parents are faced with the option of either placing their children outside of their community or forced to settle for the sub optimal setting of mainstream school, home schooled or a non ASD class in a special school setting.
  • Recommended SEN supports are not always available or being provided in the child’s school placement.
  • Insufficient SNA allocation and resource teaching access had a negative impact on children with ASD accessing their education.
  • There is a significant lack of ASD class places available at secondary level in the Lucan area despite a growing need within the primary school level.

The effects of Placement outside of local communities for People with ASD

  • Lengthy travel times – some report up to 3 to 4 Hours a day
  • Sensory impact where children need more breaks dues to long and confined journeys
  • Cost of transport
  • No opportunity to socialise with peers locally
  • Detrimental effects on student mental health and wellbeing
  • Confusion where to send children and delays in staring and accessing schooling

One parent reported having to sit with her child in a resource class for 45 minutes as there was no one available for him at these times. Many parents report long (2 plus years) waiting lists for HSE Therapists or no access at all. These services are vital for the development of children with ASD in supporting them to access education.

There is currently no ASD Early education intervention or pre-school facilities in Lucan.

Parents of Children with ASD attending mainstream pre-schools report a lack on SEN trained teachers, SNAs trained in ASD and therefore inadequate supports.

One parent says ‘’I could not find any Early intervention preschools/Montessori’s etc. for children with ASD when my son was diagnosed, we travel to Blanchardstown for my son to go to Montessori, that takes an hour in the morning’’

In Lucan there is over 25 people looking for 6 places for an ASD Class placements for September 2015.

One local parent says ‘’the amount of schools both primary and secondary in this area, and the fact that very few have ASD units is truly shocking …. Clearly there are insufficient  places at this point my son has had to have several periods of Home tuition to fill ‘Gaps’ due to lack of or inappropriate placement’’

All Schools should embrace and accept the diversity of Children with special education needs whilst safeguarding their constitutional right to an appropriate education. Diversity and difference is not something to be learned, rather it is an innate expectation and element of every part of school life.

Another parent says ‘’A secondary school in Lucan enrolment policy required a child to spend 1st six months in mainstream – my son cants manage an hour in primary school let alone six months .. She feels there is ‘’no secondary school ASD units with sensible policies’’

Our proclamation says that we will cherish all the children of the nation equally .If we are serious about Equality and Inclusion for all let us reach out to our brothers and sister that live with ASD and let them know that society cherishes them as equal citizens and will provide all necessary supports that will enable them live as full lives as possible.

One of the main Barriers is Lack of legislation to protect the rights of children with ASD and SEN.  One of the many recommendation of the Lucan Autism Network was to have the EPSEN act 2004 enacted