Duleek will soon be the home of a new ASD unit catering for the needs of children with Autism and special educational needs, catering for up to six pupils in each. Local Cllr Sharon Keogan says it is a poignant development on this World Autism Awareness Day and welcomes the significant progress that has been made in the provision of land for two purpose-built ASD units beside the existing schools in the village.
"The provision of this new ASD unit for Duleek GNS, a mainstream school, allows for positive integration into the school community whilst also allowing the pupil to participate with the curriculum as far as possible.
"Only two years ago we built a magnificent school in Duleek and it's already outgrown our need here in this village and particularly those with special needs and those on the Autism spectrum. As a result of that, the board of management have agreed to purchase one and a half acres of land and the planning application process will get underway very soon for two special ASD units.
"This is wonderful news for parents and children from our district. The value of an ASD unit to a child, parent and community is simply priceless."
Meanwhile, Meath East Fianna Fáil TD Thomas Byrne has blasted the HSE and the Minister for Health after it was revealed to him that children in county Meath, many of whom have special needs, are now waiting over 2 years for Speech and Language therapy.
“It is an absolutely appalling situation that Meath now has waiting times of 112 weeks for children to avail of Speech and Language therapy. Many of these children waiting to be seen have complex issues including autism, commented the Meath East TD.
“The number of children seeking these services has risen from 211 in 2013 to 425 in 2018 yet the number of staff employed by the HSE to deliver these essential services has dropped. There are currently two vacancies in Meath waiting to be filled.
“Under any metric, these are scandalous figures and underline both the significant challenges the health service is facing and the failures of government to get to grips with changing demographics and under-resourcing.
“These waiting lists are a major challenge for children with disabilities. Parents are having to put themselves under considerable financial strain to obtain these services privately.
“When children receive delayed interventions, it negatively affects their quality of life, and potentially risks them not making a full recovery in some circumstances” concluded Deputy Byrne.