ChildLinks Issue 1: Children & Special Needs

Barnardos. (2006). ChildLinks Issue 1: Children & Special Needs.
Children and special needs is the theme for this issue of ChildLinks. The overwhelming message which comes through the various voices of policy makers, practitioners, parents and people with a disability is that in the important areas of early intervention and pre-school provision there are major difficulties and inadequacies for children. with special needs, In the article titled “Inclusive Education for Children with Special Educational Needs”, Mary Meaney sets out the National Disability Authority perspective on the measures that have been taken since the enactment of the Special Educational Needs Act, 2004. She observes that one of the areas of intervention which has received least attention is that of pre-school provision. An example of an individual case of a Barnardos pre-school in working with a hearing impaired child is provided ‘in “Helen's Voice”. This article provides a really interesting account of how a child can be integrated into a pre-school and transfer to a primary school, with appropriate support and close collaboration by the pre-school service, the child's parents, the Department of Education, the Public Health Nurse and the primary school. Parents’ isolation, long waiting lists for assessment and children not receiving the early interventions that they need are reported in “Accessible Childcare for All”. In addition, lack of access to information on grants, financial pressures, the costs of transport, lack of access to counselling and to respite facilities were cited as barriers experienced by parents of children with special needs. An initiative which aims to develop a model of good practice for the inclusion of disabled children in childcare settings, is set out in an article provided by the Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency. In “Being 17” Caroline Casey gives a funny and moving account of growing up and discovering that she had a visual impairment. Her philosophy is best summed up in her parting line ”...the only limitations we have are those we put on ourselves”. In the final article Fergus Finlay writes of his personal account as the parent of a child born with an intellectual disability, It sounds like every service she ever got had to be fought for. What impact will the Disability Act make which gives people with disabilities the right to an assessment, enquiry, appeal, etc but not a right to services? How different will it be for children born with a disability in 2006, who haves the benefit of the Disability Act and the Disability Strategy? The National Disability Authority and the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education need to exercise leadership to ensure major development and expansion of early years care and education for children with special needs.