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!
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 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 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.
What is the point in applying for an AON if there is such a backlog and the services are not generally available even if statemented?
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 parents and carers join our parent/carer support Whatsapp 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 services 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:
MY CHILD MAY HAVE ADHD
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com. 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 you Whatsapp support group.
HOW DO I SUPPORT MY CHILD IN EDUCATION
WHAT SUMMER SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE
GOING TO SCHOOL IS CAUSING MY CHILD ANXIETY
WHAT IS THE EPSEN REVIEW?
NEURODIVERSITY IRELAND'S STANCE ON APPLIED BEHAVIOURAL ANALYSIS
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?
How long will the lanyard be valid for?
Who can use the car sticker?
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.