€450k centre for children with special educational needs in Cork

Elaine Baldwin: One of the therapists working with Sensational Kids.

A new centre in Co Cork, due to open this summer, will provide a full range of early intervention services to children with special educational needs thanks to help from the Dormant Accounts Fund (DAC).

Children’s charity Sensational Kids, which received €45,000 from the DAC, is to open the 10,000sq ft facility in Clonakilty.

The money is being used to fit out the state-of-the-art facility, which will provide a full range of child development services including occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, play therapy, and psychology.

One in four children in Ireland has a special educational need such as autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, Down syndrome. and other developmental delays.

Unfortunately, children can wait as long as two years to access vital early intervention services through the public system.

The charity was founded in 2008 by Karen Leigh, who discovered first-hand a lack of affordable support services for children with special educational needs.

Over the past 10 years, Sensational Kids has worked with more than 4,700 children at its child development centres, providing subsidised therapy sessions (€75 per hour) and aims to see each child within three weeks.

The charity’s team of therapists is currently providing speech and language therapy at Clonakilty GAA Club.

To kickstart the initiative, it is now offering a free drop-in clinic on Wednesdays from 10am to noon.

Any parent who has a question or a concern about their child’s speech and language development can call by and get free advice.

Ms Leigh said this year marks the charity’s 10th anniversary, but regrettably its services are more vital now than ever.

“We are delighted that the Dormant Accounts Fund has enabled us to expand and meet the demand for our services in Munster. Our team in Clonakilty is looking forward to making a real difference to the lives of children in the region,” Ms Leigh said.

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