Autistic boy refused full-time place at school


THE MOTHER of an autistic boy has called on the Government to intervene after her child was refused a place at a special needs school in Cork.

TJ Dunne (7) was one of nine pupils due to start full time at St Gabriel’s Special School for children with profound disabilities in Bishopstown yesterday. Parents were told on Wednesday the school could not offer the children full-time places due to staff shortages. “TJ has a diagnosis of profound to severe autism. He desperately needs speech and occupational therapy,” Sheila Dunne said.

The school was told on August 25th it would lose two teaching posts. As a result it offered families five days a fortnight. The board of management said the places had been offered in line with staff levels, which changed.

The board said it was shocked that sanctions for two teachers were withdrawn by the National Council for Special Education a week before reopening. The Department of Education said the school was “sufficiently staffed to meet the full needs of all of its pupils, including these nine children”.

Separately, at least three pupils at St Raphael’s Special School, Celbridge, Co Kildare, have been told they can only attend for one hour per day due to a reduction in special needs assistants.