I am most anxious that all children, including children with autistic spectrum disorders, receive education appropriate to their needs.
There are seven facilities in the State operating on a pilot-project basis and using alternative educational methods for teaching children on the autistic spectrum. Three of the seven are CABAS facilities, whose teaching method involves a comprehensive application of behaviour analysis to schooling approach. I wish to confirm that my Department is prepared to continue to provide funding for the three CABAS facilities for the next school year, 2004-05.
My Department will, in due course, consider the reports of the inspectorate on autism-specific provisions and any issues arising therefrom will be raised directly with the relevant managements. The position regarding the future of the CABAS facilities beyond 2004-05 will be considered in the context of this process.
My Department is actively considering applications from CABAS, Dublin, for autistic provision in south County Dublin. My officials are liaising with my Department's inspectorate and the National Educational Psychological Service, NEPS, in this regard. A response will issue to the applicants as quickly as possible.