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Assessing Children with Special Needs

Assessing Children with Special Needs

If we find ourselves in a situation that we notice something different, something that is worrying us about our child’s development or our child may have difficulties keeping up at school. Below is some brief information on the Assessments that can be carried out. If one wishes, these Assessments can be carried out to identify needs and to assist in getting the particular help that our child may need. The help for example recourse hours, activities and even help /guidance for the parent/ s in helping our children with Special Needs.

HSE – Assessments
NEPS – Educational Assessment
NCSE - The National Council for Special Education

HSE Assessments
There are 2 paths of assessment that we can take in the HSE. One of these has to be followed to complete a HSE Assessment
1. Assessing your child's need under the Disability Act 2005 (Assessment of Need)
2. Primary Care (GP, Public Health Nurse, Health Centre)

Assessment of Need
This is a one stop Assessment in the HSE. 
An independent assessment of need is an assessment of the full range of your child's needs associated with his or her disability. After this you will receive an assessment report detailing your child's health and educational needs and the services required to meet those needs.
Your first point of contact is your local Assessment Officer.
The Assessment Officer can assist you with your child's application and help and support you through the process. The Assessment Officer is responsible for issuing your child's assessment report. The assessment is independent, based solely on your child's disability needs, and is carried out regardless of the cost or availability of services. All assessments will be carried out in line with the standards developed by the Health Information and Quality Authority. You will be encouraged to take part in your child's assessment.
The Assessment Officer for our area:
Nuala Kelly
Assessment Officer
St Josephs Hopsital
Mulgrave St
061 461231

Primary Care
This could be a slower process.
Primary Care services mean all of the health or social care services that you can find in your community, outside of the hospital setting. Primary Care includes GPs, Public Health Nurses and a range of other services provided through your Local Health Office.
A Primary Care Team (PCT) is a team of health professionals who work closely together to meet the needs of the people living in the community. They provide a single point of contact to the health system for the person. Any age child can go through this assessment process.
Our first point of contact here is your GP or Public Health Nurse who will refer you to any of the following relevant areas to meet the needs of your child.
• Occupational Therapist
• Physiotherapist
• Speech and Language Therapy
• Counsellor/Psychologist
• Early intervention team
• Paediatrician
If in any case that the out come of the HSE assessments advises us to proceed for an Educational Assessment.

Why should you get your child assessed? Firstly, not all children need to be assessed educationally; however it's vital for those children who, for whatever reason, are struggling in school with the normal curriculum. The school or the HSE may inform you that it's necessary to bring an Educational Psychologist onboard. This will help to flag a child's difficulties, the support that is needed & any diagnosis that may appear. This is a real issue because there's no doubt that the earlier problems are confronted the better the outcome for the child and their family. 
Please note that resource teaching hours are not an option unless we have a diagnosis from an educational psychologist and a further diagnosis from a Clinical Psychologist, Occupational or Speech Therapist.
Or a more in depth educational assessment by an Educational Psychologist attached to the child's school through the NEPS service
Both the NEPS and Private routes offer a more in depth report on the child and their learning environment. The NEPS service is free but the request for an assessment must come from the child's school principal.
What is NEPS?
The National Educational Psychological Service or NEPS is funded by the Department of Education and Science and is a service designed to provide psychologists specialising in working with both primary and post-primary children. Primarily they work within the school community with teachers, parents and children in order to identify specific educational needs, i.e. they can look at an individual child’s learning, behavioural and emotional development and lay out a plan for supporting the child within the school environment. There are NEPS offices dotted around the country and your school may have one assigned to it.
More information on Educational Assessment can be viewed on www.giftedkids.ie

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE)
The NCSE is a statutory body established under the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004. Since NCSE was established, it has concentrated on developing an organisation which provides a timely and efficient service to schools in sanctioning teaching and Special Needs Assistant (SNA) resources to support children with special educational needs.
The Special Educational Needs Organiser in our area will be our contact within the NCSE. All applications meeting the Special Needs request from the assessments of our children are to be applied to the Special Educational Needs Organiser.
Special Education Needs Organisers (SENO)
The NCSE's local service is delivered through the national network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) who interact with parents and schools and liaise with the HSE in providing resources to support children with special educational needs.
Our applications & reports are to be sent to the SENO though the School. The school will also be in contact with the SENO. Further details of the SENO are accessible on www.ncse.ie

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