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Special children need very special teachers

HAVING been a parent of a child with severe learning disabilities through the 1980s, it was deeply depressing recently to witness similar scenes 20 years on with parents again taking to the streets to advocate on behalf of their children for essential services.

Now it seems another family member is to be adversely affected within the context of changes that are being imposed on another vulnerable section of children with special needs — those with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). In this case, the transition of existing schools for children with ASD to special school status with resulting changes for the children themselves and to the roles of the staff within the current model.

There are many parents and professionals who believe applied behaviour analysis (ABA) is the model of education best suited to children with ASD.

Your article (‘A bad deal for children’, July 15) highlights the issues acing children benefiting from the ABA model, their parents and the staff who teach them. It seems invaluable knowledge, skill and experience will be wasted as ABA tutors become special needs assistants with non-teaching duties.

Why is this wealth and skill base not developed through a restricted teaching qualification that would be recognised and used within the area of education for children with special needs?

Surely we can ill afford further waste of resources. Instead there should be a full evaluation of what is in place and an exploration of ways to include and extend these resources within the model that has proven successful for many children.

Elizabeth Devey

Grange Park Crescent

Kilbarrack

Dublin 5


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