O'Connor shares 'emotional day' as kids with Downs and mild intellectual disability get more resource hours

O'Connor shares 'emotional day' as kids with Downs and mild intellectual disability get more resource hours

Brendan O'Connor has said it is a "happy and emotional" day in his home after children with a diagnosis of Down Syndrome with mild intellectual disability won rights to resource hours in school.

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan announced the allocation of 2.5 hours resource hours to children with the diagnosis yesterday. The new allocation comes into force in September.

"It is a happy and emotional day…after a 10-year campaign," O'Connor, father to two-year-old Mary, said today on Radio One where he interviewed Minister O'Sullivan.

O'Connor shares 'emotional day' as kids with Downs and mild intellectual disability get more resource hours

The mother of a child with Down Syndrome and mild intellectual disability also gave a cautious welcome to the allocation of resource hours to children in her child's position.

Up until now, those labelled with a 'mild', as opposed to 'moderate', diagnosis were not entitled to any one-on-one special teaching in school.

Carmel Keogh - whose daughter Katie is affected - said she was relieved but that it was just the first step.

"This is an interim solution until the new model is rolled out," she said.

"Apparently (the new model) is supposed to look at the individual child irrespective of their diagnosis (but) I don’t know if or when that will ever happen, and what effect it will have on Katie."

Minister O'Sullivan confirmed this morning the new model will be rolled out.

Yesterday, Pat Clarke, CEO Down Syndrome Ireland and Mary Doherty, Chairperson Down Syndrome Ireland issued a joint statement welcoming the announcement.

"[This] announcement brings to an end a 10-year battle that families have endured and fought so desperately to highlight and change," the statement read.

"The unjust situation brought unnecessary stress, pressure and trauma on families and today’s decision, whereby now all children with Down syndrome with intellectual disabilities have access to resource hours, goes some way to alleviating that.

"We only welcome today’s decision as an interim measure pending the overall roll-out of the new and so desperately-needed model of resource hour allocation for children with education needs which the Government has promised for September 2015.

"However, today’s announcement does not go far enough. A recognition of Down syndrome as a disability in its entirety, by the Department of Education would have spared our children and their families the continued trauma and expense of assessments, a system based more on bureaucracy rather than reality and logic."

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