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Special Needs Report: ‘Autism in the Republic of Ireland’

Special Needs Report: ‘Autism in the Republic of Ireland’

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Tony Gapper. Originally submitted for BA Applied Social Studies Degree at None, with lecturer Dr. Gwen Scarbrough in the category of Social Studies
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Tony Gapper. Originally submitted for BA Applied Social Studies Degree at None, with lecturer Dr. Gwen Scarbrough in the category of Social Studies

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 30, 2012
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07/12/2014

 
ABSTRACT:Special Needs Report:
 
‘Autism in the Republic of Ireland’ 
My research topic outlines a snapshot of 
‘Special Needs’ 
. In particular, it provides adefinition of autism, a historical perspective of general learning disability schools, graduatingto the more modern, special national schools. Furthermore, it identifies the AtlanticPhilanthropies, during the early 1990s, who have painstakingly worked to achieve anaccepting and inclusive society, whereby the most vulnerable and marginalised groups canavail of education, social integration, and adequate health infrastructure. Local support for autism heralds Western Care Association, founded in 1966, as a true ambassador within thesocial care sector, to support and empower people, exhibiting multiple disabilities. Credit, ona national level, must also be extended to the Irish Society for Autism, producing innovativeliterature, in relation to the Charter of Rights for Persons with Autism.My research methodology undertaken is three-fold, deriving from personal experience of autism, whereby early intervention often proves a major breakthrough, in making a realdifference to the lives of autistic children and adults. Through placement and voluntarywork at the Crann Mor Day Centre, part of the umbrella of Western Care Associationservices, I have built up an extensive repertoire of knowledge and skills, coupled withinformed website research, utilised within the adult special needs sector. It was alsoimperative to select Internet media outlets, such as the Irish Times, depicting governmentalrefusal to acknowledge sound empirical evidence of Applied Behaviour Analysis techniques.Equally, the Atlantic Philanthropies have worked diligently to improve the lives of the mostdisadvantaged groups within society.My research findings revealed that autism is a brain disorder, impeding upon individualcommunication, with associated emotional, social, imaginative and cognitive disruption.Presently, Ireland’s ludicrously outmoded and outdated law, dating back to 1871, regardingdecision-making, fails to ratify the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons withDisabilities. According to the Atlantic Philanthropies, circa 4,200 individuals withintellectual disabilities are living in grossly inappropriate institutions or group homes,requiring radical repair or closure. Such harsh reality suggests that people with special needsand disablement will probably achieve lower educational levels, suffer poorer health, and
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 become unemployed. Crucially, Ireland has signed up for, but not yet ratified the EuropeanUnion Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.In conclusion, human rights ideologies need to find a voice within both the Irish legal and political system. To achieve this end, revised policy formulation alone is insufficient, for adequate implementation is also a prerequisite. In terms of child autism, all schools, throughcorrective policy, need to roll out autism wings, linked to mainstream schools, or else built asspecial autistic schools, within economically viable urban and rural areas countrywide.Creative and innovative public and professional awareness also necessitate urgent action, incontext to education and employment, harnessing a real sense of community presence. A prime example of 
‘Best Practice’ 
constitutes the philosophy of Western Care Association,insofar as promoting a mutually committed partnership with both local and nationalorganisations alike, despite the ravages of government cut-backs and increasingly depletedresources.
KEYWORDS:
autism; early intervention; Applied Behaviour Analysis; brain disorder;Republic of Ireland.
 
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Introduction:
I am compiling this official, academic report, to define autism, giving a historical and culturalsynopsis, policy implications, depicting marginalisation of my community, within a valuedresearch framework of local and national support services.Autism is defined as a brain disorder, impeding: an individual’s ability to communicate;respond; think and feel within social and communicational environments, and hinderingsubsequent relations (eMedTV & Clinaero, 2008). The current prevalence of males tofemales is: 4:1, whereas girls experience a more severe cognitive disruption.From personal experience, early intervention is paramount. Other therapies that are usuallynecessary include: occupational therapy, relating to fine motor skills development; physiotherapy for gross motor skills development; and speech and language therapy.Independence skills are severely compromised, with regard to dressing and toileting skills.Children and adults with autism usually experience ritualistic order and routine, prone tosensory overload, showing a lack of empathy to others. Usually, throughout life, there is aneed for ongoing specialist training in communication and social skills.
Autism Marginalisation from a Historical and a Cultural Context:
From a historical and cultural snapshot, circa the mid 1950s, various voluntary organisationsand religious groups collectively founded schools, for those, who had general learningdisabilities (The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment 1999). It was thereafter identified by the Department of Education, as special national schools. From the onset of the 1971 Primary Curriculum, most special schools and classes designed an individuallytailored curriculum, and subsequently the Department of Education introduced schoolcurriculum guidelines for moderately handicapped students. From 1986 onwards,educational facilities have been allocated to students, with conditions ranging from severe to profound general learning disability, coupled with those, already in attendance at moderategeneral learning disability schools.
Autism Discrimination within the Community:
One prime example of autism cut-backs refers to a specialist Applied Behavioural Analysis(ABA) school, namely The Achieve ABA School, based in Donaghmede, Dublin (The IrishTimes 2011). They prided themselves with progressive education for autistic children,
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