Memorandum from Parents and Professionals
and Autism (PAPA)
While PAPA is extremely indebted to the NI Department
of Education for funding the 1993 initiative in training 25 teachers
within Special Education (SLD level only) in the implementation
of a extremely effective education intervention for children with
an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) we would wish to highlight
The 1993 training in TEACCH was the
start of the acknowledgment, in Northern Ireland, of the specific
needs of children with an ASD. It would be generally agreed that
these were unmet before the 1992-93 introduction of Structured
Education. (The aim of the approach is to build upon the existing
expertise of staff). PAPA has been anxious to see this investment
in autism maximised.
A copy of the Executive Summary of the DHSS/Education
funded Evaluation of TEACCH by the University of Ulster is enclosed.
There has been no further investment
in training in TEACCH to address the needs of new staff. In-service
training has taken place but resources have not been ring-fenced.
As a result, training and consultation have been largely ad
hoc. The maintenance of TEACCH expertise has been left to
the goodwill and admirable commitment of individual staff, often
in addition to their normal duties. A pro-active training policy
on ASD is essential within education.
Only three of the five Education
and Library Boards have appointed peripatetic/outreach specialists
regarding ASD/PDD with one of the three Boards regrettably delaying
an appointment for over a year. Home links are an essential part
There has been negligible investment
regarding autism for teachers in other levels of Special Education
(e.g., MLD schools) or mainstream despite the increase in the
diagnosis of children with Asperger Syndrome in Northern Ireland.
DENI have ceased to provide funding
for staff to enhance their own expertise through study in autism
at the University of Birmingham Distance Learning Course. The
Department of Education in mainland UK and in the South of Ireland
continue to provide funding.
There is no school in Northern Ireland
for children with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. (The unique difficulties
around the social impairment which is a core element of ASD necessitates
this specific provision within a range of educational provision).
I would draw your attention to the enclosed booklet "Schools,
Units and Classes"
and to the record of provision in the rest of the UK. The new
National Autistic Society (NAS) school near Ayr in Scotland is
the closest provision to us.
PAPA would support the provision
of approaches/interventions regarding ASD under the overall concept
of SPELL promoted by the NAS which highlights the interdependence
between existing educational expertise and the vital need to incorporate
specific approaches to meet the unique needs of pupils within
the Autistic Spectrum (and at least TEACCH has already been authenticated
by the University of Ulster).
PAPA would also welcome an active
debate on the key role of educational psychologists in the Province
regarding the identification, assessment and diagnosis of ASD.
Current research is promoting the need for a multi-disciplinary
diagnosis in acknowledgement of the complexity of the condition.
It would be our wish to see educational psychology take its active
part in this process.
It is of concern to us that full use and recognition
of good practice in the education of pupils with ASD is not being
given a higher priority within education currently. This situation
will provide fertile ground for Tribunal appeals against educationit
is regrettable that education is unable to take the remedy that
is in their own hands.
I do hope that these comments and submissions
can be considered in your current enquiry in order to address
the tragic discrepancy in service provision for people with ASD
between mainland UK and Northern Ireland.
3 April 1998
3 Not printed. Back
Not printed. Back