In West Cork, there is a campaign in progress to build the first special needs school. This groundbreaking initiative is taken by parents Emily O’Driscoll, Emman Howling and Laura O’Mahony.
Emma O’Driscoll has spoken to the Irish Mirror on how problematic it is for children to travel two or four times on a daily basis to reach Cork city for their education.
Currently, there are no special needs schools in the massive areas in West Cork. The campaigners are hoping students from 5 to 18 can get educated instead of travelling long to Cork city to attend school.
Lauran O’Mahony, the mother of a 5-year-old- autistic son who is non-verbal, has further described her situation and what really led her to be a part of this campaign –
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Since it was their first experience with autism, they clearly had no idea of what to expect. For her 3-year-old son, the unit where he attended really worked well. But things went downhill as he progressed into behaviour. Max started showing aggressive behaviour. He showed his anger by biting, scratching and even banging his own head off the concrete floor. Due to the unit being all-new, the school had zero experience with autistic children. It was even found that mainstream teachers had been pushed into this section. Max was seen to attend a maximum of one hour a day, but there was no development at all.
Things went so far that the parents had no option but to pull their child out of the school knowing they had nowhere to take him. Further, she motioned that from last year December, her son has been attending a private place in Cork that is known for having a speciality in dealing with behaviour issues. Much to their surprise, they found their son to communicate using the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). Clearly, they knew how to handle children like her sons. She even added that they even have created plans, provided feedback constantly and coached parents.
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However, in September, her son happens to turn six, and they need to search for a special needs school for him where there is no one in West Cork. And this is what has pushed her and other mothers to initiate the campaign. They are calling for everyone who can support them on this issue and get in touch with them.