Rise in legal action over Tyrone autism provision


More local parents of children with autism and special needs are taking legal ac tion against the Southern Board Education Area because they believe their needs are not being met.

The number of special needs assessment appeals lodged against the education board, which covers the Dungannon District, has risen by more than 50 percent since 2010.

Last year, a total of 11 local parents took the board to court over their refusal. In 2014, the total was even higher, with 15 appeals lodged.

Across Northern Ireland, there were 121 appeals lodged

There has been a sharp hike in the number of local children diagnosed with special needs, bringing the total to one of the highest levels in Northern Ireland.

A total of 3,478 children in the Southern area currently suffer from some form of learning difficulties, behavioural problems or physical disabilities, according to the latest figures released by the Department of Education.

The number of special needs statements has been rising steadily since 2006, when there were 2,687 children diagnosed with special needs in the local area, an increase of 31%.

The figure represents about one in twenty of the total school population of 74,498 in the Southern Area,

A statement of special needs is a formal document detailing a child’s learning difficulties and the help that will be given.

If a child needs help at school - beyond what their teachers can provide - a ‘statement of special needs’ will ensure they get the right help.

A statement is only necessary if the school is unable to meet a child’s needs on its own.

In addition, a total of ten children have been waiting longer than nine months to see an educational psychologist in the local area, according to the latest figures.