Axing of autism home tuition ‘rash cost-cutting’

Children with autism are having their home tuition halted and instead are being ordered to attend new special needs units, according to one of the country’s leading autism support groups.

The Department of Education announced that 91 new classes for children with special needs are to be introduced at special needs units at the country’s schools.

Shine Ireland, the Irish Progressive Association for Autism, initially welcomed the investment but yesterday criticised it as “rash cost- cutting” saying they hadn’t realised then that such units would be used to replace more costly home tuition.

The home tuition service is used by hundreds of children with autism, some as young as two, who need specific learning support, seen as a form of early one- on-one intervention.

Shine Ireland said families have been told in the past fortnight their home tuition will no longer be funded.

Its CEO Kieran Kennedy said: “The children are being sent wherever. There has been no consultation, no chance to talk to teachers or the principal at school.

“There has been no chance to see if the needs of child can be met. No parent of a regular child would be told that you have to put your child into a particular school at four years of age.”

A Department of Education spokesperson denied grants were being cut.

“Home tuition is provided for children with special educational needs awaiting an appropriate educational placement, as an interim measure,” the spokesperson said. “Home tuition is not an acceptable long-term alternative to the placement of a child in school.

“It is, in general, a short-term measure available to parents who are unable to identify a placement in school for their child.”

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