Department of Education relents on refusal to equip Laois school's new autism unit claims TD

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder unit developed at Laois school was delayed claims TD.

The Department of Education has relented in its refusal to fund the equipping of a new unit for children with Autism at a Laois primary school, according to local TD.

The Department of Education grant will allow the opening of the new purpose-built ASD unit in Rath National School near Ballybrittas. The new building incorporates two classrooms with associate classroom safe bases, a para-educational room, a multi-sensory room, an office, a storeroom, a central activities room and a specific ASD outdoor play area.

Fianna Fáil TD Fiona O’Loughlin welcomed the funding but claimed a delay in releasing funds was holding up the facility's opening.

“I recently visited Rath National School to view the new purpose-built ASD unit that is almost completed and meet with Tommy Fitzgerald, Principal of the school. I visited the school following knowledge of the work still required and lack of funding to complete the furnishings for the opening. The Department of Education and Skills were refusing to fit out the state of the art rooms with the equipment required to open these units until this week.

“It was completely wrong, it meant that the 12 pupils and their teachers and SNAs were not able to move into the unit when the exterior was completed. The Department has granted €15,500 to start the process of equipping the new unit.

"As we all know, early intervention from qualified personnel for children with additional learning needs is vital," said Dep O'Louglin who hopes to represent the area after the next General Election.

She said she raised the issue with the Minister for Education Richard Bruton on a number of occasions since meeting the principal.

She said more funding is required but the news that some funding has been granted is welcoming and will aid the opening of the unit.