Home > Advocacy > Students with additional needs face new challenges during COVID-19

Students with additional needs face new challenges during COVID-19

•   41% of families state their child’s needs more support
•   22% of families state their child’s access to an SNA was reduced
•   Hugh majority of parents want school provision for those with additional needs in the event of another lockdown

A survey conducted by three of the leading disability advocacy organisations in the State, Inclusion Ireland, Down Syndrome Ireland and AsIAm, has found that whilst children with additional needs are benefiting from the return to school there have been new challenges particularly around accessing support and being included in schools.

Parents surveyed, reported that many young people attending special classes were not receiving opportunities to participate in mainstream, owing to social distancing requirements, or had been placed on reduced timetables.

382 answered the survey which ran across the three organisations’ websites and social media platforms. Amongst the key findings, parents reported that:

•    41% stated their child needs more SNA support;
•    30% said that reintegrating into regular routines and school settings is their biggest challenge since return;
•    33% of remain unsatisfied with their children’s present educational provision, and;
•    79% of respondents to our survey stated that children would need in-school support to continue their learning, in the event of future school closures.

Commenting on today’s report, Head of Education with Down Syndrome Ireland Fidelma Brady stated “Down Syndrome Ireland welcome the findings of this report and acknowledge the members of our organisation, together with the members of AsIAm and Inclusion Ireland, who participated in the survey. The findings bring into the public domain the challenges faced by parents of children with special educational needs as they returned to school in September.”

She added “Reductions in the levels of SNA support and SET support, together with the lack of external supports and the continuing use of reduced timetables for our children, are issues that must be addressed immediately, to ensure that, going forward, all children have access to appropriate and beneficial education in schools, and experience inclusion at its best at every stage of their education journey.”

Commenting on today’s report AsIAm’s Chief Executive Officer, Adam Harris said that “The challenge of accessing resources was of particular concern for parents. We know that the return to school was a particular challenge for our communities many of whom were unable to participate in remote learning, had lost key developmental skills and continue to experience high levels of stress and anxiety owing to the major changes in day to day life and loss of routine. It is vital that the support young people need to make this year a success, including access to additional teaching time and SNA support, are readily available.”

Mr Harris added “We are particularly concerned that a large number of families reporting having insufficient SNA access or have reported seeing a reduction or loss in SNA support. This is in the context of the Department providing the same support to schools as last year but not taking into account the profile of individual students in schools or the impact of the pandemic. At a time where every sector is receiving additional support this simply does not make sense. These learnings must be acknowledged before the Department moves any further towards a frontloading model of SNA support which it proposes to do this coming September.

“A key finding in the survey is the impact of school closures on young people and the strong desire of families to ensure those with the greatest need within the education system never again lose the support and structure of school as they did in the early months. Despite the challenges many young people are greatly benefiting from the return to school and parent want to make sure this continues in the context of any post-Christmas restrictions.”

Enda Egan, CEO of Inclusion Ireland said: “There is broad satisfaction among parents with the return to education, and this is welcome, but a number of critical issues are highlighted that would greatly enhance participation in learning for children with an intellectual disability. The lack of access to sensory breaks and sensory supports, such as ear defenders or fidget toys, due to COVID-19 compliance stands out. These are essential for many children to achieve their full potential in education and must be looked at. The second big issue is cases where children who are in a special education class, and also in mainstream classes are not being facilitated to access their mainstream classes. Provision must be made to ensure these children continue their inclusion journey.”

The report highlights a number a recommendation which are key to the success of children integrating fully back into the education system. One key measure is greater levels of integration from special classes to mainstream classes.

Full report can be downloaded here.

For further information contact:
Mark Brennock (AsIAm) 087 233 5923

by - 15 December, 2020

Last updated by - December 15, 2020

in Advocacy, COVID-19, Education, Policy, Special Education

Can this be improved? Contact webeditor@asiam.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
You May ALso Like
Autism Performance

What I (Don’t) Know About Autism Returns!

by - 27 October, 2021

After a sold-out run in 2020 Jody O'Neill's What I (Don't) Know About Autism is finally returning...[...]

Regional Group Dail Eireann Autism Bill

Explainer: What Did This Morning’s Regional Group Autism Bill Motion in the Dáil Mean?

by - 20 October, 2021

Minister for State Anne-Rabbite thanks Regional Group for motion and argues that more time is nee...[...]

‘Autism is not a health issue; it is a human rights issue’- Autism Bill to be debated in Dáil Morning of Wednesday 20th October

by - 19 October, 2021

The Regional Group of TDs intend to support and progress the Autism Bill through second stage dur...[...]

AsIAm Seeks Meeting With Department of Education About Banked Hours Decision

by - 11 October, 2021

AsIAm, Ireland’s National Autism Charity, has today written to the Department of Education to req...[...]

Update on exclusion of special classes and schools from changes to test and trace policy

by - 23 September, 2021

UPDATE This evening we attended a useful meeting with Department of Education and Public Healt...[...]

Excluding children in special classes and schools from changes to test and trace policies is “flagrant discrimination”

by - 23 September, 2021

Students with additional needs will be required to remain at home if a close contact, despite no ...[...]

Reduced School Timetables

Latest Guidelines on Reduced School Timetables

by - 22 September, 2021

Last week, the Department of Education published the latest guidelines to provide clarity surroun...[...]

Kevin Hanly: From Solohead to the TV Screen

by - 19 September, 2021

Kevin Hanly is a long-time friend of AsIAm and has written for us multiple times. Like many of us...[...]

AsIAm adult wellbeing

Launch of AsIAm Adult Support and Wellbeing Programme

by - 16 September, 2021

Today, 16th September 2021, AsIAm is delighted to announce the launch of its new Adult Support an...[...]

AsIAm Launches Bridge Forward Programme

by - 3 September, 2021

Recently, AsIAm obtained funding from the Late Late Toy Show Appeal to the amount of €100,000 to ...[...]

autistic starting college

Website Launched for Autistic Students Starting College

by - 30 August, 2021

New website launched to support autistic students starting college this September Autism Frien...[...]

AsIAm publish pre- budget submission for 2022 to the Government

by - 27 July, 2021

Ireland’s national autism charity are proposing ways the Government can achieve true inclusivity ...[...]

Autism Creative Writing

Fighting Words Fully Accredited As Autism Friendly

by - 9 July, 2021

Fighting Words is now an autism friendly organization, ensuring autistic youth nationwide will al...[...]

north wicklow educate together principal billy redmond autism friendly school management

Billy Redmond: Principal of an Autism Friendly School

by - 7 July, 2021

After talking to Lorraine Kelly of North Wicklow Educate Together School, we had a word with its ...[...]

Lorraine Kelly Autism Friendly Teaching

Autism Friendly Teaching: Lorraine Kelly

by - 21 June, 2021

After diagnostic or clinical supports, education is an institution which will take up the largest...[...]

covid-19 disabilities health education

Statement on impact of Covid on people with disabilities in health & education

by - 17 June, 2021

AsIAm Statement ahead of Dáil Debate on impact of Covid-19 on people with disabilities in health ...[...]

Dealing with exam stress

by - 8 June, 2021

Exam times can be very stressful for everyone and sometimes stress can be overwhelming. Stress is...[...]

AsIAm welcome Expansion of the Summer Provision Programme

by - 11 May, 2021

AsIAm, Ireland's National Autism Charity, has today warmly welcomed the announcement by the Gover...[...]

Autism Innovation Strategy

Autism Innovation Strategy: What It Means

by - 6 May, 2021

In April AsIAm welcomed the announcement of an Autism Innovation Strategy from the Minister of St...[...]

Autism Month Say Yes

AsIAm Launch ‘Say Yes Day’ Appeal to Raise Vital Funds

by - 21 April, 2021

As autism acceptance month comes to a close, the national autism charity of Ireland AsIAm, suppor...[...]

NCI Autism Friendly

National College of Ireland accredited as Autism Friendly HEI

by - 20 April, 2021

National College of Ireland (NCI) has been accredited as an Autism Friendly Higher Education Inst...[...]

autism resources Gaelige

Gaeloideachas and AsIAm partner to release autism resources as Gaelige!

by - 19 April, 2021

AsIAm is delighted to announce the launch of 22 autism resources as Gaelige, made in consultation...[...]

autistic students state exams receive examrevision membership for month of April

ExamRevision.ie Grants Free Access to Autism ID Cardholders

by - 9 April, 2021

AsIAm is pleased to announce that ExamRevision.ie, will be offering free access to holders of our...[...]

AsIAm United Nations

CEO of AsIAm Adam Harris To Address United Nations Observance of World Autism Day

by - 7 April, 2021

The CEO of AsIAm, Ireland's National Autism Charity, Adam Harris will address the United Nations ...[...]

Autism Innovation Strategy Ireland

AsIAm welcomes the commitment to develop an Autism Innovation Strategy in Ireland announced by Minister of State for Disability, Anne Rabbitte TD, today

by - 2 April, 2021

2nd April AsIAm, Ireland's National Autism Charity, has welcomed the announcement by Minister of ...[...]

Say Yes To Autism Acceptance: AsIAm and World Autism Month 2021

by - 31 March, 2021

We are delighted to announce our events and webinars for the month of April as part of our World ...[...]

Letter to Ministers Donnelly and Rabbite Regarding Dossiers Collected on Autistic Children

by - 26 March, 2021

We've written to Minsters Stephen Donnelly and Anne Rabbitte asking for an urgent meeting to disc...[...]

David O’Connell: One Year Since Covid

by - 19 March, 2021

David O'Connell is an autistic adult and self-advocate living in Mayo. He wrote the following blo...[...]

Autism Friendly Schools Second Year

Autism Friendly Schools: Our Work So Far

by - 19 March, 2021

Since its introduction in 2019, AsIAm's Autism Friendly Schools Project has aimed to support scho...[...]

return to school

Disability & Carers Groups Secure Commitment From Ministers Foley And Madigan

by - 19 March, 2021

Groups highlighted to Ministers members anger and disappointment at being left behind in the retu...[...]

Autism, College and Covid Lockdown: Jenny Loughman

by - 19 March, 2021

Jenny Loughman is an autistic blogger studying social care in Limerick Institute of Technology. S...[...]

UNCPDR Ireland

Webinar: Accessing Healthcare under the UNCRPD in Ireland

by - 19 March, 2021

Welcome to the second of two webinars we're hosting on accessing supports under the UN Convention...[...]

schools re-open

No consultation on changes to school re-opening plan that will negatively affect 20,000 children with additional needs – Disability and Family Carer Groups

by - 19 March, 2021

Representative groups waiting over a month for engagement from Government on special education is...[...]

Webinar: Accessing Education under the UNCRPD in Ireland

by - 19 March, 2021

Welcome to the first of two webinars we're hosting on accessing supports under the UN Convention ...[...]

SuperValu & AsIAm’s Bridge Back to School Returns to SuperValu stores Nationwide

by - 19 March, 2021

Autism friendly learning resource Bridge Back to School Resource Available in all 223 SuperValu s...[...]

New #ChildrensFuturesIRL campaign focuses on children’s right to an adequate education

by - 19 March, 2021

  New #ChildrensFuturesIRL campaign focuses on children’s right to an adequate education ...[...]

supplementary education

Explainer: Supplementary Education Programme

by - 19 March, 2021

What is this?  The Department of Education, along with relevant education stakeholders, has begu...[...]

return to special education

Partial return to special education ‘a mixed day’ for families – Disability, Children’s and Family Carer groups

by - 11 February, 2021

Seven leading advocacy organisations, AsIAm, Down Syndrome Ireland, Family Carers Ireland, Inclus...[...]

AsIAm Application to the Disability Participation and Consultation Network Successful

by - 15 December, 2020

Earlier this month, AsIAm made a successful application to the Disability Participation and Consu...[...]

AsIAm Letter to Minister Foley Re: Class Rankings

by - 25 September, 2020

AsIAm has written to Minister Norma Foley today, expressing our concern at the Department of Ed...[...]

Ireland’s Autism Charity welcomes publication of priorities for action by Minister for Special Education

by - 24 September, 2020

  Plan provides an important roadmap which now must be backed up with targets, investment a...[...]

Life Over Lockdown: Kevin Hanly

by - 18 September, 2020

Kevin Hanly – Being autistic and living through a pandemic!! COVID-19 has affected everyone’s li...[...]

Autistic families concerned about the return to school, survey finds

by - 18 September, 2020

Autistic families concerned about the return to school, survey finds 77% of families feel ...[...]

Autism and College Drop Out

by - 11 June, 2020

 Between the sensory changes, new routines and demanding workloads, starting university can be es...[...]

AsIAm’s Open Letter to the Party Leaders

by - 6 May, 2020

AsIAm has written to the party leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party to stress t...[...]

Adrian Carroll: Impact of COVID-19 on Autistic Employees

by - 25 March, 2020

Like many others facing difficult times, autistic people will largely have the same concerns abo...[...]

Autism and Covid19 Healthcare Information

by - 25 March, 2020

Here’s some specific information for the autistic community about the current crisis, developed b...[...]

Explainer: COVID-19 and Changes to Work

by - 20 March, 2020

UPDATE: changes have been announced to certain payments from the Government at this time of writi...[...]

Emma Davies Speech

by - 1 March, 2020

Emma Davies, a young autistic advocate and friend of AsIAm, recently delivered a speech to her sc...[...]

NCI Reaches Autism Friendly University Status This Month!

by - 2 October, 2019

We're currently  currently working towards Autism-Friendly Status with National College of Irelan...[...]

Autism and Higher Education: Steve Silberman and Dr. Magda Mostafa

by - 25 September, 2019

AsIAm recently hosted an informal discussion for autism and higher education. The session began w...[...]

Explainer: New Rules for Irish Language Exemptions

by - 12 August, 2019

The Minister for Education and Skills announced a rehaul of the criteria for granting exemptions ...[...]

So You Want to Celebrate World Autism Month

by - 8 April, 2019

April is World Autism Month! That means many people will be talking about autism in the media, in...[...]

Majority of Irish Support Autistic People in Jobs, Schools and the Community, but Don’t Understand Autism Well, survey finds

by - 2 April, 2019

Irish people show strong positive support for autistic people in schools, employment and society ...[...]

What Strategies can I use for my Non-Verbal Child to ease their Transition?

by - 28 September, 2018

All autistic children experience challenges in communication. While many might have an extensive ...[...]

How Can I Apply for a Special Needs Assistant (SNA)?

by - 20 September, 2018

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has just completed a review of the Special Need...[...]

How can My Child Be Supported if They’re Having a Meltdown?

by - 20 September, 2018

Research continues to tell us that we must view ‘challenging behaviour’ as a way in which the chi...[...]

How can I Explain My Child’s Sensory Needs to their New Teacher?

by - 19 September, 2018

Your child’s teacher may already be aware of autistic children's sensory needs. However, if your ...[...]

What’s an Individual Education Plan (IEP) & how can I Set One Up for My Child?

by - 18 September, 2018

An Individual Education Plan, often referred to as an ‘IEP’, is a plan to support your child’s le...[...]

What can I Do if my Child Doesn’t Want to go Back to School?

by - 14 September, 2018

Dr Emer Ring is the Head of the Department of Reflective Pedacology and Early Childhood Studies a...[...]

How can I help Ease My Child Back into the School Routine from Home?

by - 11 September, 2018

We all struggle getting back into our regular routine after holidays and for autistic children, w...[...]

What Resources are Available to Support Families on their Transitions in School?

by - 7 September, 2018

There is a wide range of resources available to support parents and children on this exciting jou...[...]

Is it a Good Idea to Arrange a Meeting with their Teacher? If so, What Should I Ask?

by - 4 September, 2018

It is a really good idea and absolutely essential to arrange a meeting with your child’s teacher,...[...]

Are there Things I can do at Home to Prepare my Child for Starting School?

by - 31 August, 2018

Parents and families are preparing their children for school from the day they are born and not j...[...]

What are the Most Important Things to Consider when Choosing a School for my Child?

by - 29 August, 2018

Starting school is one of the biggest events in both a family member's and a child's life. All be...[...]

Kevin Hanley: Back to Routine!

by - 27 August, 2018

Returning to routine after a break can be a tough one to get your head around, especially after a...[...]

NCSE’s Review of Special Needs Assistants Explained

by - 31 May, 2018

This week, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) launched its review into the Special...[...]

Interview: Jody O’Neill – Autism & Entrepreneurship

by - 4 May, 2018

Jody O’Neill is a young self-advocate attending Castletroy College in County Limerick. She has se...[...]

DCU Launches First Ever Autism-Friendly Campus

by - 22 March, 2018

Dublin City University was recognised as the world’s first autism-friendly university by AsIAm to...[...]

Was this article helpful?