Our support

Support for Neurodivergent Children

I think my child may be neurodivergent   

Neurodiversity Ireland was created from a desire to end the stigma felt by neurodivergent children and families.  Whilst this can be a worrying time for parents, we want to celebrate all of our different minds.  Unfortunately the systems relating to additional needs in Ireland are complex and daunting, with so many layers which do not necessarily work together.  We have found strength and support from speaking to other parents and carers.  Other parents and carers will likely have experience of the same issues that you are facing so please reach out.  We recommend parents and carers join our parent/carer support Whatsapp to find encouragement from others and to learn about providers who offer a neuroaffirmative approach.  We encourage connection with our kids and their inclusion in the local community, to support their fullest participation in all walks of daily life! 

Please contact us to request to be added to our Whatsapp support group. 

Webinars – keep an eye on our  twitter & instagram for our upcoming webinars on particular issues around neurodiversity.  

my child may be autistic


HSE recommends that you refer your child directly to your local children’s disability service or a primary care service. Neurodiversity Ireland believes the waiting times are extreme and that Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs) are dealing currently with referrals made in 2018, for an initial contact.   Children with more than one diagnosis are generally referred to CDNTs whereas those with less complex support needs are seen in the primary care system.  It is not clear currently how those divisions are made between HSE Disability Services and Primary Care. Neurodiversity Ireland welcomes the work Families Unit for Services & Support (FUSS) Ireland have done to seek clarification: 


Referral forms for HSE are available here.  https://www2.hse.ie/services/disability/childrens-services/services/referral/

In order to obtain a formal diagnosis for your child, you may consider applying for an Assessment of Need. The HSE has said that an Assessment of Need is not necessary to access health services.  Neurodiversity Ireland have empirical evidence that often children cannot access supports (for example in school) without a formal diagnosis.

An Assessment of Need as outlined in the Disability Act 2005 is supposed to identify your child’s health needs and what services are required to meet your child’s needs.

A person must be born after 1st June 2002 to be assessed. An application for an Assessment of Need can be made by a parent, legal guardian or personal advocate.

A young person aged 16 or 17 years can apply for their own Assessment of Need.

The assessment must commence within 3 months of your application and conclude within a further 3 months unless the Assessment Officer explains why longer time is needed. 

Usually a team will assess your child and identify their health needs. Some children will be assessed by one person. The Assessment Officer will decide if your child needs a team assessment or an individual assessment.

You are then supposed to receive an assessment report. The assessment report should provide you with information on the health and education needs of your child. You should also receive a list of the services your child needs – a Service Statement. An Assessment of Need is a legal process mandated under the Disability Act 2005.

Neurodiversity Ireland are aware of the backlog in dealing with applications for AONs due to HSE’s method of assessment being deemed unlawful by the High Court in early 2021.  Neurodiversity Ireland is aware that HSE are contracting private operators to perform AONs but that waiting times are lengthy and many applicants will not obtain a report within the statutory time frame nor a service statement.  There is ongoing litigation by families seeking to compel HSE to provide those services listed in a child’s service statement.  There are approximately 20,000 children awaiting an AON as of April 2024.  


What is the point in applying for an AON if there is such a backlog and the services are not generally available even if set out in a service statement?  

Neurodiversity Ireland recommends applying for an AON to ensure that if your child needs a diagnosis or a statement of the services needed, it would be vital to start the process given the expected delays. To apply for an assessment, you can fill in the Assessment of Need application form and send it to your local Assessment Officer.



 In the alternative, many families seek assessment privately.  A range of assessments can be carried out if needed, such as an autism assessment, sensory processing assessments, assessments for dsypraxia or other developmental issues.  Neurodiversity Ireland recommends that parents and carers join our parent/carer support Whatsapp group by emailing info@neurodiversityireland.com to find out which providers offer a neuroaffirmative approach to their assessment and reports.  Neurodiversity Ireland does not endorse particular therapists, but parents and carers can share their family experiences to help others make informed choices, about  which assessment or supports might best suit their child. 

For more resources for autistic people see AsIAm: https://asiam.ie/autism-community-support/

 We are currently concentrating our efforts on supporting children and young people.  For adults seeking more information on neurodiversity we recommend the following resources:






The Child and Adolescent Mental Health service (CAMHS) can carry out an assessment.  A statement of the findings of the assessment should be made available to the parents.

Firstly the assessment report should show what support services should be put in place in school and this should be processed by the local SENO (Special Education Needs Organiser).

Schools should support children with additional educational needs through the existing mechanisms or the school may apply to the NCSE (The National Council for Special Education) for additional special educational needs resources for the pupil. These include resource teaching hours, SNA (Special Needs Assistant) etc. Applications for resources are processed by Special Education Needs Organisers (SENO’s) and these are the local point of contact for parents and schools.

Unfortunately, services are mandated by legislation only insofar as resources exist. This means that they tend to not always be common practice. Where the assessment shows that a special education need exists an individual educational plan (IEP) should also be drawn up and put in place.

Identifying ADHD in the school setting – see https://adhdireland.ie/for-parents/assessing-a-young-person-with-adhd/#toggle-id-8

Neurodiversity Ireland unfortunately have empirical evidence that CAMHS do not wish to assess a child under 7 years old or autistic children and waiting times can be long.  There are inconsistent reports of CAMHS’ efficacy and the recent Maskey report [2022] flagged issues which are the subject of further research by UCD and an internal HSE audit.  


Families may seek private psychiatric help if ADHD is suspected and ADHD Ireland supply the following list of clinicians:


Unfortunately, Neurodiversity Ireland is aware that there may currently be no child psychiatrists in Ireland that are open to taking new patients. 

If you would like to join our whatsapp you might find information about ADHD and support from other parents/carers, by emailing info@neurodiversityireland.com 

    my child may be dyslexic


    To arrange an assessment at the Dyslexia Association of Ireland (DAI), simply complete the relevant forms below and return them to the Association. They cannot add someone to the waiting list until they receive all the referral forms. Please email completed forms to assessments@dyslexia.ie or post them to the address on the forms. Children need to be at least six years old and have had at least 18 months of education (e.g. Christmas of Senior Infants) to be assessed.

    Please note, the Association advises parents that in some cases it may be best to wait until January of 1st Class before considering an assessment. Given the current waiting list, you are still welcome to submit application forms during your child’s Senior Infant year, and you will be contacted by the team regarding the date of your assessment. The association will review each referral on a case-by-case basis and be in touch with parents if further information is needed.

    As of spring 2023, the waiting list is currently 10+ months for an online assessment and 12+ months for an in person assessment.

    The fee for a child/young person assessment is €550.00, which includes one year’s complimentary membership of the DAI. The fee for an adult dyslexia assessment is €300.00; and the fee for an adult dyscalculia assessment is €550. (Adult dyslexia assessments are quicker and less complex, hence the reduced fee.)

    All assessments include one year’s complimentary membership of the Association.

    A reduced fee rate may be available for people on social welfare or low incomes. An application form for fee support can be downloaded here, or the form can be requested via email from assessments@dyslexia.ie. The completed fee support form should be submitted with your other referral paperwork (assessment forms). Late applications for funding cannot be accepted, but please don’t hesitate to seek assistance if you or your family are experiencing financial disadvantage.

    Tax relief on the assessment fee may be claimed as a health expense (psychological assessment is a qualifying expense). See the Revenue website for further information. Please note that the Med 1 Form is no longer available. Health expenses are claimed through your Income Tax (IT) return (online). If you are a PAYE taxpayer, you also have the option to claim relief in real-time during the year.

    School-going children may be tested by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS). Please ask your school principal if this is possible. This is a free service.

    There are also many private/independent educational psychologists throughout the country. A list of these can be accessed through the Psychological Society of Ireland. Choose your educational psychologist carefully to ensure that they have the appropriate qualifications and are trained in the area of dyslexia/dyscalculia. Charges vary between €550 and €1,000+.

    There are also some specialist teachers trained in assessment. Dyslexia Specialists Ireland maintains a list of such teachers who have AMBDA/APC international qualifications which recognise the holder’s ability to undertake the assessment of dyslexia.

    When seeking a private assessment do check the qualifications of the individual. In Ireland, this would mean that the assessor should be either a qualified psychologist (preferably an Educational Psychologist at Masters or Doctorate level) or a qualified dyslexia assessor (a specialist teacher with a Masters in SLD/Dyslexia).

    There is no free state provision for adults, even for people who are unemployed or who have a medical card. They will need to access a private educational psychologist. Students in further or higher education should contact their college’s Disability Support Service who may be able to organise an assessment.



    Are any assessments performed in schools by the National Educational Psychological Services [NEPS]? 

    Neurodiversity Ireland understands NEPS are unable to perform assessments due to constraints on resources. The Department of Education says “the focus is on empowering teachers to intervene effectively with pupils whose needs range from mild to severe and transient to enduring.” 

    NEPS’ role is to provide teachers with support. They will look at a child’s file and speak with the teacher, administration and meet with parents.  Neurodiversity Ireland is aware of empirical evidence that it is rare to get an educational assessment via NEPS unless the child’s needs or behaviours are extreme.  NEPS/the school will refer to SCPA, The Scheme for the Commissioning Psychological Assessment.  This is not a substitute for a full educational psychological assessment but can be used short term whilst waiting for more thorough assessment via NEPS.  NEPS, the Principal, Parent and Teacher need to make these decisions together.  The Department says “this level  of  intervention  is  designed  to  cater  for  students  with  complex  and/or  enduring needs whose progress is considered inadequate despite carefully planned interventions at the previous levels.”  

    Information on NEPS here:  https://www.gov.ie/en/service/5ef45c-neps/

    Neurodiversity Ireland understands that there are insufficient psychologists allocated to schools and as a result, this support which was previously for the student is now focussed on supporting the teacher, unless the SCPA process is invoked. Neurodiversity Ireland has empirical evidence that due to such under-resourcing of the NEPS service, many families have found, where possible, that they have had to access private support. 


    This can all seem like a complex and daunting process however we recommend parents and carers join our parent/carer support Whatsapp to find support from other parents and carers on this issue and to learn about providers who offer a neuroaffirmative approach to their assessment and reports. 

    Supports for parents

     Please request to be added to our Whatsapp support group by emailing info@neurodiversityireland.com 

    Webinars – keep an eye on our  twitter & instagram for our upcoming webinars on particular issues around neurodiversity.  



    If you believe your child may be neurodivergent and is on a pathway to diagnosis or you have a diagnosis, what are the education options? 

    Pre School

    My child is in pre school but needs additional supports, what do I do? 

    Private Pathway:

    Obtain an official Diagnosis, with written report from psychologist. 

    Ensure your Diagnosis report includes a recommendation for pre-school (and/or primary school setting) and speak to your psychologist about this if it is not included and ask it to be amended appropriately (please note if there is a delay between your report and your child starting with pre-school or school, it would be advisable to have another session with your psychologist to understand better at that time what setting and supports would be best for your child – a break of over 2/3 years from diagnosis). 

    Public assistance: 

    The Access and Inclusion Model (AIMS) is supposed to ensure that all children with disabilities can participate in the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE).

    You can apply for AIMS via your pre school and your child does not need to have a formal diagnosis. If your child does have a diagnosis you should include this in your application form. 

    In a mainstream Montessori you can apply for AIMS support for your child, your Montessori will work with you on the application to try to ensure that appropriate supports are put in place. If you have a Psychology report it would be important to share the recommendation with your Montessori.

    If you are attending a Speech and Language Therapist or OT it could be beneficial to invite them into the pre-school setting to observe your child’s daily environment. They can in turn make recommendations to the Montessori which could benefit your child’s experience.

    For more information on AIMs: 



    Neurodiversity Ireland are aware that parents have experienced serious difficulty obtaining AIMS help in the pre-school setting.  Neurodiversity Ireland understands that it may prove severely difficult to obtain AIMS level 7 support within the preschool setting.

    If your child is of pre-school age and you are unable to find a suitable pre-school setting, you may apply for the home tuition grant – this will enable your child to get supports in the home setting.

    You can also opt for an ‘Early Intervention Pre-School’ – this is specific to children with an autism diagnosis. Some mainstream schools and schools for children with additional needs provide Early Intervention places (for example Ballyowen Meadows, St Clare’s Harolds Cross) Please link in with your SENO for more details and next steps.

    For general information on primary/post primary schools:


    Primary School

    If your child has a diagnosis or is on a pathway to diagnoses, The National Council for Special Education in Ireland (NCSE) is responsible for ensuring your child gets adequate support.  You should make immediate contact with the Special Educational Needs Officer (SENO) for your geographical area and inform them that your child has a diagnosis and will be entering the pre-school/ National School system in a certain year. This ensures they are aware of your child and the supports they may need

    You can contact the NCSE here https://ncse.ie/seno-contact-information

    My child has recently been diagnosed and how can I find out what might be the best school setting for them?

    If your child is in school we recommend you link in with your current or proposed Principal and teacher and inform them of your child’s recent diagnosis.  Review the school based recommendations in your child’s report and consult with the school in terms of making any relevant accommodations for your child.

    Depending on your child’s diagnosis (for example if it is an autism diagnosis) you should contact your SENO (Special Educational Needs Officer) who is there to guide and support you in ensuring your child is in the right educational setting for their needs.

    You can find contact details to your SENO based on where you live in Ireland here



    Or contact NCSE Head Office on 01 – 6033200 and they will advise who is your SENO.

    Where can I find a list of schools in my area with an autism specific class?

    The National Council for Special Education in Ireland (NCSE) is responsible for ensuring your child gets adequate support including placement in an autism class if recommended.  

    The NCSE 2023/24 list of autism classes in mainstream schools is linked below. You should also contact your Special Education Needs Officer as they will be able to inform you of potential spaces available or new classes opening in your area.


    My child has a recommendation for a Special School, where can I get more information on next steps?

    Now you have a clear recommendation you should call/email your SENO and inform them you are seeking to secure a placement for your child in a suitable school that will meet his or her needs. 

    There are many wonderful schools available and we would recommend visiting those of interest to find which you feel is the best fit for your child.

    You can get more guidance on the below link


    My child is in a mainstream school, what supports are available?

    Your school will have an allocation of Additional Needs Assistants (ANA’s). 

    Once the school has received its annual allocation the Principal/School must assign the relevant hours to those children who require support. In some instances schools might raise concerns that they do not have enough ANA’s to meet the demand. In this instance they should contact the NCSE and apply for an exceptional review of the hours allocated.  

    You should therefore contact your school as soon as you believe you may need ANA assistance. 

    Please see link to guidelines on the exceptional review guidelines


    My child is in school and needs Special Educational Teaching hours, how do schools assign these hours?

    Schools are assigned SET hours based on the size and profile of the school. The school then distributes those hours based on the needs of the children. SET hours are no longer based on formal diagnosis or disability, nor are they based upon the complex needs of the child.  Circular 02/2024 removed the complex needs criteria and Neurodiversity Ireland are actively seeking a pause of or reversal of this cut to the budget for special education. 

    SET hours can be in the form of 1:1 time with the child or in smaller groups. For more information you can review the circular on Department of Education website


    What is an Individual Educational Plan (I.E.P)?

    An I.E.P is a written document that is specific to your child and their educational goals. It should be written in collaboration with both your child’s Teacher and parents/Guardians. 

    The I.E.P is done annually and you should meet your child’s teacher and sign off on these goals together. It is beneficial to put these goals in place early in the school year.

    NCSE Guidelines to an I.E.P: 


    FAQ 5. What if your child is unable to attend a formal school setting? 

    You can apply for a Home Tuition Grant: 

    The purpose of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide funding towards the provision of a compensatory educational service for

    (a) Early educational intervention for autistic children who meet the scheme’s eligibility criteria; 

    (b)Students with special educational needs seeking an educational placement in a recognised school; 

    (c)Students, enrolled in schools, with a significant medical condition, or school phobia and/or associated depression/anxiety, which has caused, and is likely to continue to cause, major disruption to their attendance at school. 

    Grant Rates:

    There are two rates for the home tuition grant based on the qualifications of the tutors engaged by Parents – the standard rate and the modified rate.


    The grant rates applicable are as follows:

    Standard Home Tuition Grant Rate:

    For teachers registered with the Teaching Council where a Qualified Primary School Teacher tutoring a primary student:

    €46.00 per hour worked.

    Qualified Post-Primary School Teacher tutoring a post-primary student:

    €50.50 per hour worked.


    Modified Home Tuition Grant rate:

    Teachers who are not registered by the Teaching Council as qualified in the sector for which tuition is being provided,will receive the modified rate of payment. Teachers who are registered and qualified and who are in receipt of payment of a public service pension will receive the modified payment.

    Modified rate:

    €38.05 per hour worked


    Neurodiversity Ireland does not support use of the Home Tuition Grant for ABA therapy or other behavioural based practices.  Please see our statement on ABA below.  


    See the Department of Education advice on Home Tuition here: 




    The Summer Programme (previously known as July Provision) is run by the Department of Education for primary and post-primary students with complex additional educational needs and those at the greatest risk of educational disadvantage.  

     The programme’s aims are to support pupils to re-engage with their education over the summer months. The purpose of which is to build their confidence and increase their motivation, promote wellbeing and for some who are at key transition stages, help to ensure they can move on to their planned educational placement next September along with their peers.  

     This is a voluntary programme and not all schools avail of the opportunity to engage with this programme. There are two programmes available for eligible students In-School Summer Programme and Home-Based Summer Programme.  

    What is the (in-school) Summer Programme? (Primary)  

     This is the programme available to students whose school is participating in the programme this year, available throughout the months of July/August. There are 3 in-school programmes at primary level. These are:  

    • The Primary School Scheme which integrates the Inclusion Programme and Special Class Programme from last year into one Additional Educational Needs (AEN) scheme for mainstream primary schools:  This scheme is for children in special classes and pupils with complex educational needs in mainstream classes
    • An expanded literacy and numeracy summer camp/Campaí Samhraidh for pupils in DEIS schools. This is available to all schools in the DEIS scheme, including those that received their new DEIS status in September 2022 

     Speak to your child’s school about the in-school Summer Programme. For more information on the eligibility criteria for the in-school Primary Summer Programme please click here.  

    What is the (in-school) Summer Programme? (Post- Primary)  

     This is a 2-week summer programme for students in special classes and students with complex needs in mainstream classes. The Department of Education outlines the criteria for this programme which is available here. If you have any questions on this programme, contact your child’s school.  

     What is the Special School Pilot Scheme? 

    The Special School Scheme can run for two to five weeks at any time during school holidays and not just in July. This pilot programme has been designed to ensure supports are targeted to enhance the availability of school-based programmes in special schools and coordinate children’s access to these programmes.

     The scheme also aims to assist with identifying staffing needs and resources and reduce the administrative burden associated with leading a school-based programme, introducing a Summer Programme National Coordinator to liaise with schools, the department and education centres to facilitate this. The length of the day is being reduced from the full school day to 10am – 2pm but the same daily rate will be paid to staff taking part. This again recognises the challenges associated with running the programme in a special school.

    For the first time, when a child’s special school is not running a school-based programme, a portal will be available to allow parents to register their child’s details so if a place in another location becomes available the child’s participation can be organized. A portal will also be available for teachers and SNAs to register their interest in working on a school-based programme.

    For more information about this scheme click here

    Can I get school transport during the Summer Programme? 

     If your child avails of the special education needs (SEN) transport scheme, it may be provided for the duration of the Summer Programme. If SEN transport services are not available, you can apply for grant funding after your child has completed the programme. Contact your child’s school for more information this.  

     What is the (home-based) Summer Programme 2024?  

     A home-based Summer Programme will continue to be available for children with complex needs where their schools are not providing a school-based programme. All autistic students are eligible for the (home-based) Summer Programme.  

     The allocation of hours is 10 per week for four weeks, where a student is eligible, and their school is not participating in a school-based programme or is not in a position to offer the student a place on a school-based programme. If a child avails of this programme and is eligible, it is up the parents/guardian to locate a tutor for the duration of the programme.  

    For the first time, the department is allowing a Small Group Arrangement whereby individual registered teachers can deliver a programme for students in a group of up to three. Allocations to siblings will no longer be a shared allocation and must be applied for separately.

     For more details about home-based education, we await information from the Department of Education. 

    Neurodiversity Ireland is aware that the budget for the Summer Programme for schools has been cut by 50% since 2022 and seeks clarity from the Department of Education as to the rationale for the reduction. 



    You should speak with your child’s Teacher and/or Principal to discuss the current situation. The aim is to encourage your child to return to school but not to cause them more anxiety. One way around this could be to attend school on reduced hours with a view of building it back up again once you child is ready.

    It is important your child’s avoidance of school is taken seriously by all parties and that they work together to understand the trigger for this avoidance and help them to make small accommodations which could have a huge positive impact for the child. 

    Below is a useful information on school avoidance: 







    Neurodiversity Ireland is aware of the Governmental following publication:  https://www.pdasociety.org.uk/life-with-pda-menu/family-life-intro/school/ 

    Neurodiversity Ireland notes the lack of reference to autism or other neurodivergence as a possible cause for a child’s inability to attend school and suggests this Guide should be updated.  Part 2.2 of the Guide is welcomed by Neurodiversity Ireland: 

    2.2. Factors that reduce the risk of school refusal 

    *secure relationship between parent and young person 

    *co-parenting – sharing tasks, be consistent, clear and firm 

    *understanding the factors causing and maintaining anxiety 

    *high levels of support and low levels of stress

    *student’s good coping skills, easy temperament and ability to make friends 

    *school having the resources and knowledge necessary to provide a supportive environment 

    *co-operation between those involved in supporting the student 

    *the student’s sense of belonging in school . 


    iPlease see our Statement on EPSEN Review

    EPSEN 2004 principle is that every child should be educated in a mainstream school in their local area, with their peers. 

    The Education for People with Special Education Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004 is a piece of legislation which outlines how the education process for people with additional educational needs should operate. However, the key sections (3-13) of the EPSEN Act which confers statutory rights to assessment, education plans and appeals processes on children have not commenced yet. The National Council for Special Education is the statutory body responsible for the delivery of education services for people with special education needs and particularly children. They deliver services locally through their network of Special Education Needs Officer (SENO)’s.

    Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education, Josepha Madigan announced a review of EPSEN in 2021, seeking submissions for March 2023, then extended to June 2023.  There has been no further update from the Minister or Department and Neurodiversity Ireland implores the Minister to urgently address this 20 year old Act and implications for its non-commencement for children who need support to access the curriculum.



    Frequently Asked Questions

    How much is the NS lanyard?

    We will supply this NS lanyard for free to those that meet the application criteria


    How long will it take to receive my lanyard?

    You will receive your lanyard within about 28 days

      How long will the lanyard be valid for?

      The lanyard will be valid for three years for children and five years for adults. lanyards will be allocated on an individual basis

      Who can use the car sticker?

      The Neurodiversity Sandymount car sticker is only available to neurodivergent people that have safety and accessibility issues. Use of this will be monitored by our NS committee and the local council to ensure it is only being used for genuine cases where neurodivergent people have safety and accessibility issues.

      What will this lanyard do for that child/adult who has a diagnosis of neurodivergent profile

      The lanyard will serve as a proof of diagnosis when interacting with service providers.  These include public servants (and those working in local Sandymount businesses).  Any support provided is at the service’s discretion. It does not automatically entitle lanyard wearers and/or their companions to preferential treatment over other customers.   We are currently in talks with a number of businesses and service providers to provide support and benefits to lanyard wearers.  Our lanyard is recognised at Dublin Airport and an expanding range of events. 

      What do I need to provide when applying for my lanyard?

      In order to be eligible for a lanyard, proof of diagnosis will be required. When you apply for your lanyard in our below contact box, we will then send you an email with the list of acceptable documents, such as an assessment report’s front page or a letter from a clinician confirming one’s diagnosis of a Neurdivergent profile that we will need you to provide to us. They will be appropriately destroyed as soon as the lanyard is produced and will not be re-used or shared with any third party.

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