Above: There is a full range of facilities with an occupational therapy hall, two speech therapy rooms, a €43,000 multi-sensory room (pictured above), a para-educational room, two quiet rooms and three specially designed classrooms.
With a reputation for educational excellence and a new state-of-the-art school building, enrolments at Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin in Clonakilty have continued to grow each year. Nineteen years after Gaelscoil Chloch na gCoillte opened in a holiday home with one teacher and 20 children, the school now boasts 318 pupils and 32 staff.
What many may not be aware of is that the school also has an Early Intervention Class and Autism Spectrum Disorder Class with exceptional facilities for children with Special Needs. Children from the age of two-and-a-half to 12 years are catered for in these classes in the school. A class dedicated to children from third to sixth class has just been sanctioned by the Department of Education and Skills, which means that from September 2014, a full Primary school placement for children with diagnosed ASD will be provided at Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin – the only service of its kind in the West Cork area.
There are nine pupils in the Special Education Classes at present. Children from 2.5 years are catered for in the Early Intervention Class and Junior Infants to Second Class children in the next class.
“We have facilities for 18 children, six in Early Intervention, six in Junior class and six in Senior class,” explains School Principal Carmel Nic Airt. “All that’s needed for a child to attend is a diagnosis of Autism and a recommendation to be placed in an autism specific setting.”
Each class has one teacher and two special needs assistants with WCCDS regularly providing Occupational and Speech Therapy services.
Services to the children are through to the medium of English. There is a full range of facilities with an occupational therapy hall, two speech therapy rooms, a €43,000 multi-sensory room, a para-educational room, two quiet rooms and three specially designed classrooms. Each child has his/her own dedicated workstation. There is also a shower room, changing area and toilet facilities. Outside facilities include a soft play area that is integrated with the Infant classes. English, Music and Maths lessons are also integrated with mainstream classes.
Carmel explains that a feature shared by many of the children with Autism is that they are non-verbal, therefore communication is a huge everyday challenge. “One of the things we’re most proud of is that one of the little boys, now four, who was completely non-verbal when he started with us a year ago, now uses language to make his needs known. Something in the multi-sensory room triggered his speech, which is now also transferring to situations outside the room.”
For more information call the school at 023-8834882.