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Special Educational Needs.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 8 November 2005

Tuesday, 8 November 2005

Questions (57)

Joe Costello


143 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science the state of progress of the Middletown centre of excellence for autism; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32757/05]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

My Department and the Department of Education in Northern Ireland are jointly engaged in the development of the Middletown centre for autism in County Armagh. Both Departments have jointly funded the purchase of the former St. Joseph's Adolescent Centre, Middletown, and plan to refurbish the property with a view to developing a centre of excellence for children and young people with autism throughout the island of Ireland. The centre will be dedicated to improving and enriching the educational opportunities of children and young people with autistic spectrum disorders. Four key services will be provided by the centre, including a learning support service on a residential basis; an educational assessment service; a training and advisory service; and an autism research and information service.

A number of working groups are continuing to address the legal, financial, organisational and infrastructural aspects of the proposal. For example, work is continuing on the development of a campus masterplan for the Middletown property which, when complete, will guide the commissioning of any necessary infrastructure and refurbishment works. Officials from both Departments are working closely on this project and this interaction between the two Departments will continue over the coming months with a view to ensuring that the centre becomes operational as quickly as possible.