The history of education for children with special needs in Ireland has been one of neglect and exclusion until there was a change in attitudes and policies. The government had no need for policies regarding education and care of children with additional needs because they were carried out by religious orders. Many children were sent away to hospitals, homes and even asylums. They were hidden away from society. There were three stages in relation to the education and care of children with additional needs.
Era of Neglect and Denial
The era of neglect and denial was when the government thought children with special needs didn’t need to be educated and were seen as a medical problem. The Medical Model of Disability thought that children with special needs were abnormal. The problem was seen to be with the person with special needs and this model focuses on the causes of the disability and would look for cures rather than accept the person.
“The medical model of disability views disability as a ‘problem’ that belongs to the disabled individual. It is not seen as an issue to concern anyone other than the individual” (www.2.le.ac.uk, Assessed 07 March 2014).
Era of Special Schools
The era of special schools was when a number of religious orders set up schools for children with special needs. The care and education was entirely up to the religious orders and the children would often board here rather than stay at home with their families. These schools were later recognised by the state. The government now believed children with special needs needed to be educated but not with “normal” children. They believed that the children would interfere with the education of the other children and therefore could not be educated in the same schools.
Era of Integration and Inclusion
The era of integration and inclusion began when the government introduced policies on education for children with special needs. They introduced these
References: University of Leicester: “The social and medical model of disability” (Online), available: http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ssds/accessability/staff/accessabilitytutors/information-for-accessability-tutors/the-social-and-medical-model-of-disability (Accessed 07 March 2014). Flood, E. (2010) Assisting with Special Needs, An Irish Prospective, Dublin: Gill and McMillian (Accessed 08 March 2014). ASTI: “Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs” (Online), available: http://www.asti.ie/operation-of-schools/legislation/education-for-persons-with-special-educational-needs-act/ (Accessed 10 March 2014). HELPGUIDE.org: “ADD/ADHD in Children” (Online), available: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/adhd_add_signs_symptoms.htm (Accessed 09 March 2014). Special Education Support Services: “Cerebral Palsy” (Online), available: http://www.sess.ie/categories/physical-disabilities/cerebral-palsy (Accessed 10 March 2014). Irish Health.com: “Autism” (Online), available: http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?con=307 (Accessed 11 March 2014). The Irish Times: “Spelling out the needs of students with dyslexia” (Online), available: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/spelling-out-the-needs-of-students-with-dyslexia-1.1621963 (Accessed 11 March 2014). Loftus, E. (2014) “Children with Additional Needs”, 5n2396: CareTec, unpublished.