Kids in ASD units and special classes need urgent clarity around returning to school, Cork South West Deputy Christopher O’Sullivan says.
Cork South West Deputy Christopher O’Sullivan as asked education minister Joe McHugh to examine ways to allow children enrolled in ASD units and special classes to return to school as soon as possible and in line with best practice health advice and social distancing measures.
Speaking in the Dáil last week, Deputy O’Sullivan said children in ASD units and special classes have had to go without speech therapy, occupational therapy, movement breaks and psychological supports since March 12.
“No preparations or provisions have been made for these children. These children, their parents, their guardians, their families – they deserve better,” Deputy O’Sullivan said.
“I know of a child who every morning gets her coat, gets her school bag and heads out the door waiting for a taxi that never arrives.
“I can’t even begin to imagine the stress that that family and that child go through on a daily basis.”
Minister McHugh confirmed in early May that a special scheme for children with severe/profound intellectual disabilities or autism, called July Provision, will go ahead this year.
July Provision is an extension of the school year for children and can be either school-based or home-based.
On Thursday Deputy O’Sullivan asked the minister if, given the July Provision is going ahead, can the minister see a way to allow children who are enrolled in ASD units and special classes to return to school.
Deputy O’Sullivan pointed to the small number of students who attend the classes (no more than six children in any classroom at any time) and said that, subject to all public health guidelines, they can be accommodated for.