Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy has said the parents of children with Autism and special needs are struggling and fighting for SNA support and other services in a bid to meet the educational and psychological needs of their children. Deputy Murphy raised the issue under Topical Issues in the Dáil recently.
Speaking in the Dáil Deputy Murphy said: “I like so many of my colleagues are dealing with cases every week where parents of special needs children are struggling and fighting for services for their children in a bid to meet educational and psychological needs. Like any mother or father, these parents only want the best for their children but they are constantly coming up against obstacles.”
The Fianna Fáil TD highlighted the case of a ten- year old boy non-verbal boy from his constituency who presents with Autism and associated Intellectual Disability.
“This little boy previously had access to resource teaching hours and SNA support on a full time basis for the past number of years in primary school setting.
However from September 2018 the SNA support has been significantly reduced which is having a detrimental effect on his schooling and development- this child needs constant supervision- he has issues with self-care and safety and is at a high risk of running out of the classroom or school yard if not properly supervised. This little boy is also non-verbal and was making good progress with his SNA. The family has provided all the assessment reports and psychology report which outlines his case in detail,” said Deputy Murphy.
Deputy Murphy called on the Minister to reinstate full SNA resources to this boy as soon as possible as it is vital for his future educational and psychological needs.
Deputy Murphy also queried figures which had been provided to him earlier in the year through a Parliamentary Question when the Minister indicated that 800 additional SNAs were to be allocated for the beginning of the school year, with a further 140 expected to be allocated by the end of the year.
Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Staunton who was standing in for the Minister for Education during Topical Issues indicated that SNA figures had increased in County Roscommon from 171 in 2017 to 186 in 2018 and the figures had increased from 778 in County Galway in 2017 to 819 in 2018.
Deputy Murphy welcomed the increase in SNA resources for the Roscommon/Galway area but he noted that if such increases were taking place why were SNA resources still being taken away or significantly reduced for some individuals.
He also highlighted the fact that children who may have had an SNA throughout primary school level then find themselves in secondary school and the goalposts have changed significantly although they still require the same level of assistance