As you’ve heard 100 times before, every person with autism is different and their needs and abilities are also different. Below I will give an outline of the different educational settings which are available from age 2.5 to 18.
For a child with autism, home tuition is available for early educational intervention between the ages of 2.5 and 5. It is for children who cannot find a suitable early intervention educational setting elsewhere. For children up to 3, 10 hours per week are allocated. For children 3-5, 20 hours per week are allocated.
Home tuition can only be carried out by somebody registered with the teaching council and be Garda vetted. The tutor must also prove that they are qualified to teach in the area.
Early intervention setting
This setting helps to prepare a child for attending school. The ratio of children to adult is usually very low meaning that the can get the hands on time the might need. They will try and build the child’s independence, concentration, and also help you to tackle issues such as toileting or behavioral concerns.
Again these settings have a low ration (6 kids:3 adults - 1 teacher, 2 SNAs) meaning each child can get the time and attention they require. Most ASD preschools are attached to a mainstream school with the intention of integrating the kids where possible.
AIM, the access and inclusion model, is a relatively new scheme, beginning September 2016. It’s goal is to allow children with additional needs to access the ECCE scheme. AIM support varies depending on each child’s needs. Level 7, the highest support, funds an additional adult in the setting. This is not an adult to work 1:1 with your child, it is intended purpose is to lower the ratio in the room.
Some children will require a high level of support which may make a special school the best fit. Again they have lower ratios and also provide multi disciplinary support, nursing support and SNA support, to accommodate all children. A place in a special school starts at age 4 and continues until age 18. Some children may transition in/out from mainstream settings as their needs change.
ASD class attached to mainstream school
Similar to the ASD preschool, formally called ‘units’. An ASD class maintains the lower ratio provided in the ASD preschool (6:3). It aims to follow the curriculum and integrate into the mainstream setting as appropriate. It also provides children with an IEP, to ensure their individual goals are being worked towards. An ASD class place starts in Junior Infants and lasts until 6th class in most schools.
This is your most common classroom setting with one teacher to 20+ children. As the ratio is higher than in the other settings mentioned a child may benefit from the support of an SNA. SNA access is granted on a case by case basis, often children will share an SNA with one or more other children within the school. Children who require help with feeding, toileting or are a considered a risk to themselves or others may require a full time SNA.
You can also choose to teach your child at home. You do not need to follow the national curriculum, you can teach according to your child’s ability. If you choose to home educate you must apply to TUSLA for an assessment. There are many Facebook groups that provide support and encouragement for parents who decide to home educate.
For more information on any of the above, visit https://www.education.ie/en/