Autism funding secured for Limerick school

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Email:

donal.oregan@limerickleader.ie

Autism funding secured for Limerick school

Denise Nally, Nicola Blake, Minister Niall Collins, Barbara Sadlier, Cllr Martin Ryan, Fr Dick Browne, Noel Gleeson and Pat O'Toole

MINISTER of State for Higher Education Niall Collins has welcomed a “massive investment” at primary level in a County Limerick village.

€1.4 million has been sanctioned for an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) unit in Scoil Chaitríona in Cappamore.

“It is massive investment into Cappamore. The principal, Nicola Blake, has shown great initiative and leadership. It will be a huge resource to the locality. I am delighted that Cllr Martin Ryan and myself were able to help deliver this substantial funding,” said Minister Collins.

Ms Blake said they are extremely grateful for the funding and says there is a “huge need among our community for this facility”. Their journey began in September 2019 when they took two children into an ASD class.

“We are using a resource room at present. We added another four children to our class this September and now have a class of six with a teacher and two full time SNAs.

“We were very fortunate in that we had great parents support who undertook a Sea to Summit fundraiser last year for us and collected €5,320. We were also lucky to avail of €3,000 from the JP McManus Benevolent Fund and with this money we were able to buy much needed equipment such as creative and sensory toys, bean bags, floor mats, fluorescent mirrors and numerous other equipment that will benefit our children tremendously,” said Ms Blake, who adds that they were always aware that they would only be able to cater for a fraction of the families that had applied for the precious few places. 

“Our aim is that with the construction of this building we will be able to cater for another class of six children.

Our unit aims to offer an autism specific learning environment within our mainstream school. This type of educational setting facilitates optimum inclusion as part of the school community with access to mainstream activities as appropriate. We hope that work will be completed in September 2022,” said Ms Blake. The principal says it is a wonderful achievement for their community and surrounding areas.

“I want to thank the dedication of the board of management and would like to thank all the staff for all their efforts. I can see only good things ahead for Scoil Chaitríona. We have been growing in numbers since September 2019. We hope to continue this trend and get developing status for our school giving us an extra class teacher. Also as a result of the new ASD Unit we would create more SNA and teaching positions,” said Ms Blake, who thanked the people of Cappamore who are always “so supportive” of Scoil Chaitríona.