I raised this issue on behalf of the Dublin 12 campaign for ASD inclusion. They are a group of parents who are campaigning for the establishment of ASD units, classes and specific schools in the area and accreditation for the community as being ASD inclusive.
Parents of children with autism in the area must go outside it to look for classes. One parent cannot even get his child into a school. For children with moderate to severe autism who are unable to cope in a mainstream setting, an ASD specific school will fulfil their educational needs.
Scoil Colm is run by the Edmund Rice Schools Trust. The parents have met the trust to discuss the possibility of the school becoming an autism specific school and it is very open to considering it. The door is open and we will keep pushing it as much as possible.
There is plenty of land available to build a new ASD specific school, but we have identified Scoil Colm, a large area behind which could be developed as a sensory garden. There are many opportunities. It is situated right beside a health clinic with GPs, public health nurses, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists. There is a huge opportunity to develop the school which is not operating as an autism specific school with the support of Scoil Eoin.
In Dublin 12 there are nine ASD classes, with a maximum of six children attending each class. The classes range from early intervention preschool classes up to and including sixth class. The children remain in the ASD class until they are integrated into a mainstream classroom, where they have the benefit of learning among their peers, while having the security provided by the ASD class and experienced staff. Unfortunately, not all schools cater for ASD classes from junior infants to sixth class, which can be very stressful for the children involved. There are long waiting lists to access ASD units in Dublin 12. Children with moderate to severe autism are unable to access mainstream classrooms and require autism specific schools where they can have their individual needs met.
Scoil Colm on Armagh Road in Crumlin would be a perfect setting for an ASD specific school. Dublin 12 has an established special school, Scoil Eoin, which is situated beside it. There are 134 children in the school which, unfortunately, does not take autistic children. The school could link closely with Scoil Colm to provide a specific school.