State must fix major shortcomings in support for kids with special needs

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
23 November 2018

Labour Party education spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has said that a radical approach is needed to address the major shortcomings in State supports for children with special needs.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“I have been advocating for indvidual cases from across the country since I became Labour Education Spokesperson and the stories are harrowing.

“The common thread is that the families of children with special needs and additional needs feel they have to go to war with the State in order to get results. This can be especially stressful for parents who already find themselves in an extremely difficult situation.

“The current system of assessment is failing many children and families. Many parents can’t afford to get private assessments for their kids and schools only receive a restricted number of assessments from NEPs.

“In the last week alone, I have received representations from a family who have been are waiting for almost three years for their infant child to be seen by an Early Intervention team despite a diagnosis of autism. This is not good enough. 

“This Government claim they want to create the best education system in Europe, yet my colleagues and I are dealing with parents who are at their wits end because they don’t know where they will be able to send their children to secondary school due to their additional needs. 

“It’s not just parents who are suffering because of this, teachers and SNAs are struggling to deal with the lack of resources and the demands on their time.

“All the while the message from Leo Varadkar and his “Independent” friends is that the State should blow €3billion in tax cuts over the next five years. It was also extremely distressing to have a minister in the Deparment of Health inform me during a Seanad debate on Tuesday that his vision for an appropriate wating period was ‘immaterial’.

“It is now time to seriously consider moving the section of management of children’s educational needs from the Department of Health to the Department of Children were they can be properly resourced and dealt with in a much more compassionate manner.”

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