Jo Boles 0

Mandatory training for Irish mainstream school teachers - children on spectrum disorders

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As a mother of a 13year old son who was diagnosed with Dyspraxia, SPD and Dyslexia many years ago. The purpose of this petition is to bring to the forefront the need for the Irish Government, Department of Education, to introduce mandatory training to all mainstream school teachers – primary and secondary school on the various elements of spectrum disorders.

Spectrum disorders include but are not limited to Autism, Aspersers Syndrome, Dyspraxia (DCD), ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder - to name but a few.

As a parent I am extremely alarmed and concerned by the lack of understanding a large population of mainstream school teachers have regarding spectrum disorders. Our children are often branded disorganised, clumsy, forgetful etc. More often than not these challenges are due to elements of their condition and not something our children can control. Comments such as these have a detrimental impact on our children’s confidence, self-esteem and feeling of self-worth which further diminishes their ability to learn. Often causing anxiety and depression, as well as leaving them open to bullying by their peers.

The only way to eliminate this is by educating the educators. I’ve researched this at length and my suspicions have been confirmed - this mandotroy training does not currently take place. This is unacceptable as statistics have proven that in a classroom of 30 children at least one child will have been diagnosed with one of the conditions mentioned above, others may be awaiting diagnosis and others never diagnosed because their symptoms are less obvious.

Whilst many of us are already aware the current Irish school system needs a total reform. Our educational system has not changed much from the industrial revolution when it was introduced (that's a separate petition!)

All I am asking for at this point is that our teachers are trained and informed. In doing so we equip them with the knowledge, skills, expertise to truly understand our children and to support them on their educational journey. This will only work if this training is mandatory, and is designed by medical experts with parental input.

History has proven that children on spectrum disorders and children who struggled academically at school have went on to make significant contributions to society, indeed many on a global scale. A significant amount becoming entrepreneurs, many making considerable advances in humanitarian interventions, science, medicine, engineering, the arts – I could go on. Organisations today proactively seek out people who think differently and can bring something unconventional to their organisation – this is what our children have the ability to do.

For now we need to get to a point where our children’s differences and diversity are supported and encouraged. Therefore when they eventually leave school for the world of university and/or work they do so confidently, firmly trusting and believing in their self-worth and ability to positively impact the world they live in.

I have already forwarded a lengthy communication to the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton. I intend to do the same with our Taoiseach, Leo Varadker.

When this petition has achieved its target I will forward to both.

On behalf of the many parents of children on spectrum disorders and most importantly the children themselves thank you for signing and sharing.


(on a side note – I told my son that I was putting this petition together, he said to me ‘mam I love you but you’re only one voice’ – I responded that there are many children and I’m certain many more voices will follow. He said ‘we’ll see but I don’t think so’ – for the first and only time in my life I am determined to prove him wrong!

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