Delays in School Transport Provision Causing Unnecessary Anxiety for Families and Autistic Students  

AsIAm, Ireland’s National Autism Charity has highlighted its deep disappointment and dissatisfaction at the high number of families whose child has been left without school transport services this week upon the return to school. Students who attend special school and special class placements are entitled to access school transport services. As many Autistic children travel long distances outside of their community in order to access a suitable school place, access to a transport service is critical for many children to be able to sustainably access an appropriate education.

AsIAm this week carried out a snap survey (24hrs) on school transport provision, which found a significant number of students are still without school transport provision. As schools open across the country after the summer recess, many autistic students still find themselves in limbo as a result of this uncertainty. This uncertainty has created an unnecessary and unwanted distraction for many families.

The results of our survey, which was completed by 193 community members shows:

  1. 64% (123) of autistic students have encountered issues/delays confirming transport arrangements
  2. Of those 123, 62% of families confirmed this has impacted their child’s return to school
  3. 18% of autistic students although entitled to school transport have not had it approved yet.
  4. 54% of those students who are without school transport are in an Autism class, whilst 28% are in a special school.

Speaking on this issue, AsIAm’s CEO Adam Harris statedThis should be an exciting time for many families and autistic students. Instead, what we are hearing on the ground from parents is a sense of anxiousness, disappointment and uncertainty.”

He added “Many families within this survey have highlighted the impact this delay is having on their family life and their child. Parents have had to take time off work, unpaid leave, and make changes to their work hours etc. One family has to do an 80km round trip daily, which is not sustainable”

“It is critical to remember that many of the children who have not been provided with a school transport service are the same students who have spent many months of uncertainty about whether they would even have a school place to go to this September. Once again, the Department has placed another barrier in front of families who have already had to unfairly fight and are often only able to access a school place outside of their local community”

The lack of effective planning speaks to a complete lack of respect for the accommodations many autistic children require for school with regards predictability and undoes a vast amount of work that is likely to have been taken by both family and child in preparing themselves for a new school year”

AsIAm will write to Minister Foley and Madigan on this issue requesting that an urgent response be provided to alleviate the pressure currently experienced by so many families

 

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