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Special class children are left high and dry


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Special class children are left high and dry Special class children are left high and dry

Children in a special language class will have no education next year after a dispute over who controls the admission policy has led to the HSE withdrawing their funding for a dedicated therapist.

There are more than 30 applications every year for just seven places in a class for children who have been diagnosed with a Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) at Scoil Chaitríona in Renmore.

However, following a decision by the school to review the admissions policy and allow children who have paid for a private diagnosis of the learning disability instead of only those who have received a diagnosis from the HSE, the agency has withdrawn their support and the class has been cancelled for September.

Susan Browne from Monivea, whose eight-year-old daughter Reeva was granted a place for two years in the class, said she was told by the HSE that following several meetings with school management they “felt it was time for a new model of SLT [Speech and Language Therapy] service delivery needs to be developed”.

“I’ve spoken with everyone in depth and I can see both sides. The HSE want full control over the application process as they always have and that means they only accept children who have worked with SLTs in the community. It was the Athenry SLT who put my daughter forward for the class.

“But the principal Marianne Brady decided to review all admissions policies of their classes – mainstream, the Reading Class, Language Class, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Class, Moderate GLD [General Learning Disabilities] Class – and has decided to remove the criteria for admissions only through the HSE.

“Her argument is that it’s an educational facility with HSE support, it’s not a HSE facility, and parents who are waiting 18-36 months for a HSE diagnosis shouldn’t be discriminated against if they pay €1,000 for a private diagnosis.

“The HSE are also approved to provide 20 hours of contact support, which doesn’t include administration or support on the bus and when she pushed back on that it created a bad feeling and things have completely broken down to the point that these people cannot sit around a table and work this out and reach a compromise.”

Susan Browne said the progress her daughter had made after just one year in the class has been phenomenal. To lose the second year before she returns to her regular school in Monivea would be unthinkable.

“Reeva gets 20 minutes one on one SLT and then she goes out in groups each day on different topics following a specific programme. There is one teacher, a part-time Special Needs Assistant and a full-time SLT. The difference since she went in is astonishing. This cannot be allowed happen.

Pictured: Eight years old Reeva Browne, one of the children affected by the withdrawal of funding for a therapist at Scoil Chaitriona in Renmore.


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