The era of integration or inclusion. In the era

The history for
people with special needs in Ireland has been through as Swan (2000) described
in three phases: the era of neglect and denial, the era of the special school
and the era of integration or inclusion. In the era of neglect and denial until
there was a huge change in attitude, polices and legislation, the government
did not consider educating people with special needs. This resulted in many
children being sent away to live in asylums or group homes and were hidden away
from society. Parents of a child with special needs were often encouraged to go
home and have another “normal” baby as there was embarrassment
associated to having a special needs child. There was also a lot of mockery
towards special needs children which sadly continues to this day. People often
thought that children with special needs were abnormal or their problems were contagious.
There are 2 attitudes towards a person with special needs that continue to this
day. These are the medical and social model. The
medical model of disability says people are disabled by their impairments or
differences and focus on what a disabled person cannot do. The social model of disability says that disability is
caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or
difference.

 In the era of special schools, in 1846, St
Mary’s School for deaf girls was established in Dublin by the Dominican order and
11 years later, St Joseph’s School for deaf boys run by the Christian Brothers
opened in 1857. Children were sent from all over the country to board in these
schools from an early age. From the foundation of the state in the early 1900’s
mostly all education and care regarding children with special needs was carried
out by the religious orders in Ireland. This order remained the same for many
years until religion started to rapidly decline and many schools and
institutions were taken over by the state. From then on there were a number of
special schools catering to different disabilities opened around the country.
The government believed children with special needs needed to be educated but
not with “normal” children as they thought that special needs
children would interfere with the education of other children and should be
kept separate.

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In the era of
integration or inclusion, the government began to introduce policies and
legislations for children with special needs. Some of these included The
Education act 1998 and the disability Act 2005. This act entitles all children
including children with special needs the right to a free education and all
have a right to be treated equally and to be included in all aspects of
education despite their ability or disability. Another act introduced was The
Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (Epsen) Act 2004. This Act
states that, a child with special educational needs shall be educated in an
inclusive environment with children who do not have such needs. Parents of
children with special needs wanted their child to be educated alongside typical
children and this was allowed as most schools had facilities such as SNA’s to
cater for their additional needs. Through inclusion regarding people with
special needs, it has brought more awareness and acceptance throughout the
country in the recent years. There are also a lot more services and
organisations available for people with special needs including, SNA’s,
independent living, jobs, funding, better medical care, organised day trips,
public transport and special Olympics. Also the stigma surrounding a person with
special needs has decreased significantly and will continue in the coming
years.