- WHAT ARE MY ENTITLEMENTS?
- WHAT ARE THE EDUCATIONAL OPTIONS AVAILABLE FOR THE CHILDREN WITH AUTISM?
- OPTIONS TO EXPLORE WHEN LEAVING SCHOOL
WHAT ARE MY ENTITLEMENTS?
We have listed below some of the entitlements for people with Autism and their carers. The list is not exhaustive and changes from time to time. It is for information purposes only and the final decision on granting any of these issues is with the relevant authority.
- Domiciliary Care Allowance is paid to parents of a child with a disability. Further information can be obtained from the Department of Social Protection’s Website here.
- Disability Allowance is paid to a person with a disability over the age of 16 years. Further information can be obtained here.
- Carers Allowance is a means tested allowance paid to carers who live with and look after people who need full time care and assistance. Information on the Carers Allowance can be found here.
- Carers Support Grant (formerly called the Respite Care Grant) – Information on on the Carers Support Grant can be found on the Department of Social Protection’s website here.
- Medical Card – Some people with autism and their families may be entitled to a medical card or GP Visit card – Further information on these cards and how you can apply can be found here.
- VAT refund – Some children may require special equipment. Further details on this can be obtained from revenue.ie
- Home Tuition Grant – A grant paid by the Department of Education – Further information can be obtained here.
- July Provision – This scheme provides funding for an extended school year for children with a severe or profound general learning disability, or children with Autism. For further details on the July Provision, please see the Department of Education & Skills website here. Alternatively, you can contact the programme directly via the following;
Email: Julyprovision2017@education.gov.ie Address: The July Provision Programme Unit. Department of Education & Skills, Cornamaddy, Athlone, Co. Westmeath N37 X659. Phone: (090) 648 3839
- A variety of tax free allowances such as health and medical expenses/incapacitated child allowance etc. Further information on these allowances can be got from revenue.ie
- A Home Support Worker – this service is administered through the Health Service Executive. Families who have a member with a disability in some cases are entitled to an assessment for this service. Families can apply for an assessment through a public health nurse or local health centre.
WHAT ARE THE EDUCATIONAL OPTIONS AVAILABLE FOR CHILDREN WITH AUTISM?
As Autism is a spectrum disorder, there is a wide range in levels of individual needs and this is reflected in education provision.
There are some pre-schools that cater for children with Autism, situated in different parts of the country. If there is no preschool available in your area there is an entitlement to 10 hours per week Home Tuition from diagnosis to 3 years old. From the age of 3 years until placement in education this entitlement increases to 20 hours per week.
Under the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme which started in September 2016, all eligible children in the Republic of Ireland are entitled to free early childhood care and education (otherwise known as ‘free pre-school’) in the period before they start primary school. In order to support children with a disability to access free pre-school, a major new programme of supports, the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM), has been introduced.
AIM is a child-centred programme of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme in mainstream pre-school settings, and can participate fully in the pre-school curriculum alongside their peers. For further information on the supports provided by AIM, please see the website here.
Some special schools cater specifically for people with Autism. Other long established learning disability schools cater for general learning disability and also have Autism specific classes. To search for a list of special schools in your area, please see the Department of Education’s ‘find a school’ section on their website here.
Main Stream (Classes)
Classes for children with Autism in main stream schools have approximately six pupils with a teacher and two special needs assistants (SNA’s). There are many of these schools around the country. For further information on special classes in mainstream schools (both primary and secondary), please see the National Council for Special Education’s website here.
Main Stream (Individual)
Some higher functioning children are capable of progressing in a mainstream class with the assistance of personal SNA’s and five hours withdrawal support teaching. Please note there has been a change in the Special Education Teaching Allocation for each school, which will come into effect at the start of the 2017/2018 school year. The new Special Education Teaching Allocation will provide a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on that school’s educational profile. You can view each school’s allocation (both primary schools and secondary schools) on the National Council for Special Education’s website here.
In recent years since the EPSEN Act of 2004, there is a growing number of special classes and units for children with Autism in main stream post primary schools (currently between 30-40). As in the primary schools there will normally be a ratio of 6:1 with two SNA’s. For further information on special classes in mainstream schools (both primary and secondary), please see the National Council for Special Education’s website here.
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE)
The NCSE was set up to improve the delivery of education services to persons with special educational needs, with a particular focus on Children. Their service is delivered through a national network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), who interact with parents and schools, and liaise with the HSE in providing resources to support children with special educational needs. To see the contact details of your local SENO, please click here.
The NCSE has published a number of useful information booklets and guidelines to help support parents of children with special education needs, including ‘Planning for Life after School’. For more information and to view these booklets in pdf format, please go to their website here.
The above list is the education provision of the Department of Education, there are other methods and groups who provide education. This information is only a guideline, for further information please contact the Department of Education www.education.ie
OPTIONS TO EXPLORE WHEN LEAVING SCHOOL
If you are a person with Autism, or the parent of a person with Autism and are looking to investigate the options available after leaving school, there are a number of organisations who may be of assistance to you.
Further or Higher Education
If students with Autism wish to progress to further education after leaving secondary school, the following organisations may be of some help to you:
- DARE – Direct Access Route to Education
DARE is a third level alternative admissions scheme for school leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education. DARE offers reduced points places to school leavers who, as a result of having a disability, have experienced additional educational challenges in second level education. For further information on how DARE can help you, and their participating colleges, please see their website here.
- AHEAD – Association for Higher Education Access and Disability
AHEAD is an independent non-profit organisation working to promote full access to and participation in further and higher education for students with disabilities and to enhance their employment prospects on graduation. AHEAD provides information to students and graduates with disabilities, teachers, guidance counsellors and parents on disability issues in education. For further information on how they might be able to help you, please see their website.
- The Higher Education Authority – Fund for Students with Disabilities
The Fund for Students with Disabilities allocates funding to further and higher education colleges for the provision of services and supports to full-time students with disabilities (including Autism Spectrum Disorders/ Asperger’s Syndrome). The Fund aims to ensure that students can participate fully in their academic programmes and are not disadvantaged by reason of a disability. For more information, and to check your eligibility, please go to their website here.
- Disability Support Services
Many colleges and universities have dedicated Disability Support Services, who can assist those on the spectrum with their studies. Please see the links below for some examples, however if the educational institution you are interested in is not listed below, please contact them directly to enquire about the services they can offer;
- Trinity College Disability Service
- University College Dublin Disability Service
- National College of Ireland Disability Support
- DCU Disability & Learning Support Service
- Maynooth University Disability Office
- NUI Galway Disability Support Service
- University of Limerick Disability Services
- University College Cork Disability Support Services
The following organisations may be able to assist you if you are interested in further learning, outside of a College/University environment.
- The National Learning Network
National Learning Network provides a range of flexible training programmes and support services for people who need specialist support (job seekers, unemployed, people with an illness or disability) in 50 centres around the country. For more information, and to see details about their centres nationwide, please find their website here.
- AONTAS – The National Adult Learning Organisation
The National Adult Learning Organisation advocates for the right of all adults in Ireland to quality learning throughout their lives. For further information, please see their website here.
- The National Adult Literacy Agency
The National Adult Literacy Agency is an independent charity committed to making sure people with literacy and numeracy difficulties can fully take part in society and have access to learning opportunities that meet their needs. If you would like information on how they may be able to assist you, please view their website here.
If you are interested in seeking employment, the organisations below can offer support;
- IASE – The Irish Association of Supported Employment
The Irish Association for Supported Employment works to support people with disabilities to find and keep a job of their choosing. At the same time, supported employment helps employers find the right candidates to fill their job vacancies and to build diversity in their workforce. The IASE promotes supported employment at a national level, to jobseekers, employers, disability and other services, policy makers and the general public. For further information, you can find their details here.
EmployAbility is a nationwide employment support service for people who have a disability, health condition, injury or illness. They have successfully worked with both job seekers and employers in facilitating employment. To see if they might be able assist you, you can find further information and details of your local office on the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection here.