In September 2015, we opened a Preschool or Early Intervention class for children with autism in Room 18A. These classes are for children aged between 3yrs and 6yrs who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism is a developmental disability that affects how a child or young person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. The first signs of autism usually appear before the age of 3. Children or young people with autism can have limited interests and repetitive behaviour which means that small changes in familiar surroundings or routines may cause them great upset. Many children or young people with autism may be overly or under sensitive to certain sounds, touch, taste, smells, light or colours. Children with autism may have difficulty in developing language and in using language to communicate. Others will have good language skills themselves, but may still find it hard to understand conversations and how to take part in them.
While children with autism may have a number of difficulties, they also can have areas of particular strengths and talents. It is important for parents to be aware of these strengths and to encourage their children in these areas.
It is very important for young children with ASD to receive support as early as possible in life to assist their development. Autism specific early intervention classes, like the one in Room 18A, set out to help the children adapt to the challenges of everyday life by teaching them the specific skills needed to function effectively in school, at home and in the community. Children spend up to two years in the Preschool Class after which they will transfer to a mainstream class or a special class for children of school age.
The Department of Education funded the fitting out of the classroom and the employment of a teacher and two Special Needs Assistants for the class of six pupils. Other essential interventions such as speech and language and occupational therapies are the responsibility of the HSE. The provision of these therapies can be somewhat patchy and there is, we feel, a need to supplement them or, in some instances, to provide them from scratch. Other facilities such as sensory play areas outside are also expensive and are not covered by the funding provided by the Department of Education and Skills.
Various fundraising events are being organised to help with the costs involved in providing these extras which, incidentally, will benefit many children in the mainstream classes as well as those in the Early Intervention classes. Your support for the fundraising will be greatly appreciated.
The Jigsaw Jive is in aid of the Assumption Junior School's Preschool Unit for children with Autism. It is being held in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel at 7.30 p.m. on Friday 7th April. Tickets are €15 and are on sale in school or can be purchased at the door.
To make a donation to Assumption Junior School click on 'Donate' below. Thank you!