Parents Protest Over Autistic Education

Around 300 people demonstrated outside the Dáil this afternoon, calling for a method of education for autistic children to be recognised and funded by the State. Last month, the family of a six-year-old autistic boy tried to compel the State to provide their son with 30 hours of Applied Behavioural Analysis a week.

However, the High Court ruled that the education being provided to the boy was appropriate and that the State should not be ordered to provide this particular type of education.

Parents involved in today’s protest say they fear for the future of the 12 ABA schools throughout the country following the ruling.

The schools are funded by the Department of Education on a pilot basis. The parents say 200 children are currently being thought through ABA and that a further 345 are awaiting places.

The group handed a letter to the Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin, into the Dáil, requesting her to take part in a debate about the need for ABA. They also released 345 balloons to represent the number of children awaiting ABA places.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education says it is the department’s view that children with autism should be educated in special classes in mainstream schools.

The department says that it does not accept ABA exclusive intervention is appropriate for all students. It says this position is supported by the Task Force on Autism report.