Children/Adolescents with Disabilities


Children/Adolescents with Disabilities: Progression Pathways Working Group

Kerry CYPSC has established the Progression Pathways Working Group in order to clearly highlight the services and supports available for young people (18-24) with Intellectual Disabilities; Autism or Acquired Brain Injury. The group is working together to support these young peoples transitions from child to adult disability services and from second level education to further education, training and work opportunities.

Who We Are

Membership of the Progression Pathways Working Group includes representatives from statutory, community and voluntary services in County Kerry including: Kerry ETB, HSE Disability Services; Institute of Technology, Tralee; National Learning Network Kerry; Dept. of Employment Affairs and Social Protection; EmployAbility Kerry; Kerry County Council; North East & West Kerry Development; South Kerry Development Partnership; Kerry Colleges of Further Education; National Council for Special Education; and Kerry Diocesan Youth Service

Purpose of the Progression Pathways Working Group

The purpose of this working group is to identify progression pathways to appropriate education, training and work opportunities for young people with intellectual disabilities (ID), autism and/or acquired brain injuries (ABI) when they are leaving second level education. Essentially, the focus of the work is on supporting the transitions of these young people from child to adult support services and education/work opportunities as well as to address any barriers identified.

At present, the working group is preparing a poster for parents, schools and professionals which will clearly identify the services and supports available in Kerry. This is to aid the transitions of young people with ID, autism and/or ABI from child to adult services and second level education to further education, training and work opportunities. The poster will clearly identify a) services and supports available in Kerry, b) access routes to the services and c) service contact details. We hope to have this simple poster completed and circulated to all appropriate stakeholders by the end of September 2018.

Progression Pathways Poster

see PDF attached.

Junior Aspect Pilot Project 

The Progression Pathways working group will pilot a ‘Junior Aspect’ Transitions Project in Kerry and we are currently exploring funding options to support this initiative. Aspect provides specialist support to adults with Autism (18+) and the Progression Pathways group believe this work should ideally start earlier i.e. at age 16.

Disability Fair 

In late 2016, the Progression Pathways sub-group of the Kerry Children and Young Peoples’s Services Committee (now chaired by the Director of Further Education and Training, Mr Owen O’Donnell) identified the need for clear information for parents and young people (primarily but not exclusively aged 16-25 year old), with additional support needs including disability and learning differences in order to assist them to progress to the most appropriate training and education opportunities for them. This fair, which was held on the 30th of January 2018 in the Manor West Hotel, Tralee, was a response to the above need. A Disability Fair is currently being planned for January 30th 2019 and will be held in the Rose Hotel Tralee.



The event was extremely successful and the group plans to hold a disability fair in Kerry annually. The proposed date for the 2019 event is January 30th, 2019.

Kerry Tour Guide Training for Youth (18+) with Down Syndrome

Members of the Progression Pathways Working Group identified a lack of meaningful employment and training opportunities for young people with Down Syndrome once they finish second level education as a real gap for these young people.

In an effort to address this, the group has identified an initiative developed by Granadown, the Association for Down Syndrome which serves Granada, Spain. Granadown has designed free tourist visits for the Granadian suburb El Realejo in which young people with Down syndrome are the guides. It is know as ‘Free Tour’ and provides free visits aiming to strengthen the capabilities of these young people as well as promote their independence and self-esteem.

Following this inspirational example, the Kerry CYPSC Progression Pathways working group will offer a 2-year Tour Guide Training Programme with built in employment opportunities for young people with Down syndrome in Kerry. In year 1, tours will be available in Killarney and the project is hoped to further develop and offer tours in Tralee in Year 2.

The initiative is being supported by Kerry ETB, IT Tralee, Cork Kerry Tourism, Kerry Supported Employment Service and Kerry County Council.

Link to Granadown initiative 

Kerry Intervention & Disability Services (KIDS)

The programme ‘Progressing Disability Services for Children & Young People’, aims to achieve a national unified approach to delivering disability health services. this is so there is a clear pathway to the services needed for all children, regardless of where they live, what school they go to, or the nature of their disability or delay.

Children should receive the health services they need as close to their home and school as possible. Some children may have their needs met by their local Primary Care services. An early intervention and a school age team will look after all children with more complex needs in a defined geographic network area, regardless of the nature of their disability. These teams will be supported by specialist services when a high level of expertise is required.

The programme also involves our partners in the education sector to ensure we are working together to achieve the best possible outcomes for children.

Kerry Intervention & Disability Services (KIDS) is a partnership between the HSE South, Brothers of Charity, Enable Ireland and St. John of Gods Children Services. It provides services in County Kerry to children and young people (up to 18 years) with complex needs.

How to Access our Service

Services will be provided to children based on needs. The team your child is referred to will be decided based on your home or school address. Referral forms are available from yout public health nurse/GP/health center. Referrals can be sent directly to the relevant team (see below) and are accepted from a variety of sources including:

  • Parents/carers
  • Doctors
  • Allied health professionals e.g. speech & language therapists
  • School staff
  • Other children’s services e.g. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

An application form and signed consent form are essential for the referral to be accepted.



















What We Do

Once your child has been accepted by the service, a member of the team will contact you to arrange an appointment. Your child will then be assessed by a number of therapists from the team working together. They will identify your child’s needs and make a plan of action.

Areas for assessment may include:

  • Speech and language development – talking and communication
  • Social development – how your child gets on with others
  • Emotional development – how your child feels in different situations
  • Cognitive development – how your child thinks, understands and concentrates
  • Gross and fine motor development – how your child uses large muscles and small muscles
  • Adaptive skills – (for example, feeding and dressing) from an early age

Who is on the Team? 

The teams may include some of the following professionals:

  • Psychologist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Speech and language therapist
  • Early intervention specialist
  • Social worker
  • Domiciliary care nurse
  • Family support services
  • Manager
  • Administrator
  • Clerical officer
  • Pediatrician

The team links with primary care teams, pediatricians, area medical officers, preschool coordinators, and school staff.

How does the KIDS help Children?

Once an assessment has taken place and the needs of the child and family are taken into consideration, a plan of intervention will be written up.

All therapy is aimed at equipping you, the parent, to keep working with your child at home.

Intervention may include a block of treatment appointments, a home or school programme for you/school staff to implement, advice and consultation with members of the team, recommendations for equipment or adaptations to home/school environment. Intervention may be given to your child where they might be paired with another child or placed in a group or on a one-to-one basis.

If your child does not need the services of the disability team at this time he/she will be referred to the appropriate service.



AIM (Access & Inclusion Model)

The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) Programme. Its goal is to empower pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience, ensuring that every eligible child can meaningfully participate in the ECCE Programme and reap the benefits of quality early years care and education.

AIM is a child-centered model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child and the pre-school service. For many children, the universal supports offered under the model will be sufficient. For others, one particular discrete support may be required to enable participation in the ECCE Programme, such as access to a piece of specialized equipment. For a small number, a suite of different services and supports may be necessary.

In other words, the model is designed to be responsive to the needs of each individual child in the context of their pre-school setting. It offers tailored, practical supports based on need and does not require a formal diagnosis of disability.

What Supports are Provided Under AIM?

AIM provides a suite of universal (1-3) and targeted supports (4-7) across 7 levels:


Universal Supports (Level 1-3 of the Access and Inclusion Model) 

Universal supports are designed to promote and support an inclusive culture within pre-school settings by means of a variety of educational and capacity-building initiatives.


  • A new Inclusion Charter has been developed for the pre-school sector. Pre-school providers are invited to sign-up to this Charter by producing and publishing their own Inclusion Policy.

To support this process, updated Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Guidelines for Early Childhood Care & Education have been produced and a national training programme on the Inclusion Charter and the Guidelines is being delivered by the City & County Childcare Committees. The Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Charter and Guidelines can be accessed here.

  • new higher education programme, “Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years” (LINC), commenced in September 2016.

The Department of Children & Youth Affairs will fund approximately 900 places per annum, over 4 years, on this programme. Pre-school settings employing a LINC graduate (who has agreed to take on the role and responsibilities of Inclusion Coordinator within their pre-school setting) will attract an increase of €2 per child per week in the rate of ECCE capitation payable to that setting.

  • Finally, a broad multi-annual programme of formal and informal training for pre-school staff in relation to disability and inclusion will be funded by the Department of Children & Youth Affairs and will be delivered by a number of agencies (e.g. the City & County Childcare Committees, Early Years Specialist Service, Health Service Executive) as well as other agencies.

Targeted Supports (Levels 4-7 of the Access and Inclusion Model)

The supports at levels 1 to 3, when appropriately developed, have been found internationally to be sufficient to support many children with disabilities. However, where a pre-school provider, in partnership with a parent or guardian, considers that some further additional support may be necessary to meet the needs of a particular child, they can apply for one or more of the following targeted supports:

  • Expert advice, mentoring and support is available from a team of 60 specialists in early years care and education for children with disabilities. These experts, termed Early Years Specialists, are based in the Better Start National Early Years Quality Development Service.
  • A scheme is available for the provision of specialised equipment, appliances and grants towards minor building alterations which are necessary to support a child’s participation in the ECCE Programme.
  • Therapy services, which are critical to a child’s participation in the ECCE Programme, are available through AIM and will be provided by the HSE.
  • Finally, where the above supports are not sufficient to meet the needs of a child, pre-school providers, in partnership with parents or guardians, can apply for additional capitation to fund extra support in the classroom or to enable the reduction of the staff to child ratio.

How to Access the AIM Supports?

Applications for AIM remain open throughout the year. In the case of children with more complex disabilities, parents and pre-school providers are encouraged to apply early.

Universal Supports (Levels 1 – 3 of the Access and Inclusion Model)

Early Years Practitioners can apply for the new higher education programme, “Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years” or LINC, at

National training programmes in relation to the Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Guidelines, as well as in relation to disability and inclusion more generally, will be advertised on the websites of all City & County Childcare Committees. Pre-school providers and practitioners will be able to apply for places on these training programmes via their local City or County Childcare Committee. 

Targeted Supports (Levels 4 – 7 of the Access and Inclusion Model)

Advice and support from the Early Years Specialist Service can be accessed by phone (01-511 7222), e-mail ( or via the AIM online application form through the Programmes Implementation Platform (PIP). This form only needs to be completed once to access supports across levels 4, 6 or 7. For information purposes, a copy of the form can be accessed here.

To apply for specialized equipment, appliances or a grant towards minor alterations, pre-school providers, in partnership with parents or guardians, should complete the relevant part of the online application form on PIP. For information purposes, a copy of this part of the form can be accessed here.

To apply for therapy services or additional capitation to fund extra support in the classroom, pre-school providers, in partnership with parents or guardians, should complete the online application form on PIP, including the Access and Inclusion Profile section of the form. It is estimated that only 1 to 1.5% of children in ECCE will require, and therefore be eligible for, the Level 7 additional capitation.

Finally, while the Access & Inclusion Model was introduced in June 2016, full implementation will take time as capacity is built across the sector.