Tons of Fun Tots welcomes an unexpected guest …

There was great excitement at the Tons of Fun Tots playgroup during its last session when a certain someone in a familiar red suit paid an unexpected visit to some of the youngest members of the DSI Louth Meath Branch.

We had a room full of excited boys and girls, all dressed up for Christmas, and ready to party with their teacher, Triona Cussen. We were practicing “good sitting” and singing some seasonal classics. All the boys and girls were attentively watching Triona demonstrate some Lámh signs along with the songs when who should come in the door  … only Santa Claus!

Practicing Good Sitting

Some of the children were very excited to meet the man himself while others were a little more hesitant but Santa made sure he had a little something for everyone in his sack.

Suffice to say it was a great morning and a wonderful lead up to the Christmas season.

A special word of thanks to Mickey Rooney and all the staff in St Mary’s GAA, Ardee as well as the transition year students from Ardee Community School. The Christmas party was a huge success, enjoyed by both the babies and parents alike.

A Happy Christmas to you all.

Tons of Fun Tots is a play & educational group based in Ardee for pre-school children with Down Syndrome. The group is suitable for babies/wobblers/toddlers from 6 months to preschool/school age. However, new mums/dads & younger babies are always welcome. The group is a formal, but fun-based, learning environment for infants and young children and introduces them to lots of songs and rhymes using Lámh which helps develop their social skills and build a close circle of friends. It is also a valuable resource for parents, providing an opportunity for them to see Lámh being used in a setting that is both informal and more importantly, fun.

For further information on Tons of Fun Tots, please contact:

Brendan Stephenson at or Andrea McArdle 086-3709831

DSI Launches New Education Booklets

Down Syndrome Ireland are delighted to launch vital new resources for parents and teachers of children with Down syndrome in a variety of educational settings.

Our Supporting students with Down syndrome in post primary school booklet provides educators and parents alike with information and advise on how to help students with Down syndrome thrive in mainstream education settings.


There is information about Down syndrome, about the learning profile and about various issues which might interfere with a student’s ability to access the curriculum. Topics covered include literacy; numeracy; movement, sport and leisure; managing behaviour and social and emotional development. It also provides a pathway to Junior Cycle. With each chapter, there are suggestions of practical, manageable ways to help.

Our Supporting students with Down syndrome in special schools booklet provides parents and educators with information and advise on how to help students with Down syndrome thrive in special education settings. It also provides suggestions for intervention for children with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The move from primary to post primary school can often be difficult for any student. For a student with Down syndrome, that bit of extra thought, planning and preparation will help ease this transition – to the benefit of both the new arrival and the school. Our Supporting Students with Down syndrome transition from primary to post primary school  booklet outlines some simple initiatives and practical steps teachers and parents can take to support students.

A very useful tool to help ease the transition from primary to post primary school is preparing a Getting Ready for Post Primary School – My Workbook. Print off this workbook and personalise it with information, pictures and other useful tips and it can be used to prepare students for the move.

All four resources were launched this week at the first of our six Managing Behaviour & Transitions for the Student with Down syndrome education conferences taking place around the country.  If you are interested in attending any of our upcoming conferences, please visit here.

The booklets were produced by Down Syndrome Ireland thanks to funds raised through our HB Fundays campaign with HB Hazelbook Farm.

CCSP Scheme update

It has been announced that the Government will be extending the CCSP scheme until August 2021. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has confirmed that anyone registered at the close of the current registration window (October 25th) will be allowed to roll over into the following year.

The Government is also extending the maximum enhanced hours to 45 hours per week and maximum standard hours to 20 hours with effect from Sept 2020.

We’ll update you when we hear more.

Regional Advisory Council

The Regional Advisory Council held its first formal meeting on September 4th in Conyngham Arms hotel Slane.

The newly formed Regional Advisory Council(RAC) is an independent self-advocacy group for adults with Down syndrome in the North East area. The 14 member council, consisting primarily of people from Meath and Louth but also some from Westmeath and Cavan, is the first of its kind within DSI’s 25 branches. Based on the successful National Advisory Council developed over a number of years, the RAC offers an opportunity for the branch members to have a structured input into the plans and activities of DSI in the region.

Speaking at the first meeting of the Council, Louth Meath branch chairperson Paul Radford said:

“We are proud to be the first branch in Ireland to commence the Regional Advisory Council initiative. We have known for a long time, as both parents and committee members, that people with Down syndrome have their own voice and opinion about how they want to live their lives. The RAC will ensure that those voices are listened to, those opinions respected and acted upon.”

Council facilitator and DSI National Advocacy Officer, Helena Connors said:

“We are delighted that the Louth Meath branch are taking the lead on the RAC programme and we hope to follow suit with other branches across our countrywide membership. Over the next two years, the Regional Advisory Council members will engage in structured self-advocacy and organisational skills training that will enable them to be confident and effective self-advocates. They will be electing their own officers and speaking out on the issues of concern to themselves and the communities in which they live. Watch this space!”

Allyson Maher Helena Connors DSI council ficilitator national advocacy officer , Megan Mc Cormick ,Brendan O’ Shea and Niamh Mc Nally at the newly formed regional advisory council Launch at the Conyngham Arms Slane Photo Jimmy Weldon

Conor O’ Dowd, Fintan Bray,Mike Egan Louth Meath resource officer,Tomas Nally and Cathal Byrne at the newly formed DSI regional advisory council Launch at the Conyngham Arms Slane Photo Jimmy Weldon

Annmarie Whelan, Fintan Bray and Elearnor Murray at the newly formed DSI regional advisory council Launch at the Conyngham Arms Slane Photo Jimmy Weldon

Paul Radford Chairperson, Liam Foley,Helena Connors DSI council ficilitator national advocacy officer, Fintan Bray, Mike Egan DSI Louth , Meath resource officer at the newly formed regional advisory launch at the Conyngham Arms Slane

Education Conference 2019/2020

Down Syndrome Ireland have organised Education Conferences for 2019/2020.

“Managing Behaviour & Transitions for the Student with Down Syndrome”

“Supporting the Child with Down Syndrome in Mainstream Primary School”


Please note: early booking is essential as, due to the high costs involved, the conferences will only go ahead if sufficient numbers are booked. Each Primary, Post-Primary and Special School have also been notified.

Full details and a booking facility for each conference will be available on from September 1st2019.


See & Learn Training

See & Learn Training

Conyngham Arms Hotel Slane

 26th August or 30th September

6 – 9 pm  

Down Syndrome Ireland are rolling out See and Learn training to parents of children aged between 2 and 5 years (early years and preschool).

DSI are investing in rolling out See and Learn with funds raised through our HB Fundays campaign this year. See and Learn is an evidence based, structured teaching programme which teaches speech, language and reading skills in small steps for children with Down syndrome up to 6 years of age.

The programme is designed to help educators and parents provide young children with the additional support and practice they need to learn language.

During 2020, DSI want to put a See and Learn pack in every participating pre-school in the country that has a child with Down syndrome attending and provide See and Learn packs to each of our 25 local branches.

DSI have been in contact with all of our member parents of children aged 2 – 5 asking them if they and / or their child’s early year’s educators would like to participate in our training programme and we’ve had lots of interest!

To find out more about the project you can contact Olive Buckeridge, or the and See and Learn Project Leader, Gavin Mc Donnell or check out our website here:

To register for the Training please contact or



DSI calls for IEPs to become a legal right and access to revised July Provision scheme

Message from Gary Owens, CEO, Down Syndrome Ireland

DSI calls for IEPs to become a legal right and access to revised July Provision scheme during meeting with Minister for Education Joe McHugh

Dear Member,

We hope this email finds you well.

As you may be aware, we met with the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh and Department officials to discuss the education needs for children with Down syndrome, including access to July Provision and for Individual Education Plans to be enshrined in law.

The outcome of the recent High Court actions regarding July Provision are confidential but the Department has clarified that the children were not admitted to the programme. We argued for the scheme to be extended to every child with Down syndrome for this year but, according to the Department, this is not possible.

However, the scheme as it stands is currently under review and we are happy to say – following our meetings and ‘Please Don’t Leave Us Behind’ education campaign – Down Syndrome Ireland will be strongly represented in the consultation process, which is due to take place this Autumn. We understand that there will be a needs based approach to the scheme from Summer 2020. We will continue to strongly advocate for all children with Down syndrome who wish to avail of the new scheme to be automatically eligible.

Individual Education Plans

At the meeting, we continued to call for Individual Education Plans to become a legal requirement for all children who need them, including for children with Down syndrome.

Effective planning is key to supporting a child with Down syndrome to succeed at all stages of their educational journey.

A fully inclusive education is a right, not a privilege. Down Syndrome Ireland has long campaigned for the EPSEN Act 2004 to be fully enacted so that the rights of students with additional educational needs are enshrined in law, rather than depending on encouragement from the Department of Education and Skills and the goodwill of schools and teachers.

Students with Down syndrome were recently reminded that they have no legal right to an Individual Education Plan (IEPs). IEPs are documents that identify children’s special educational needs and set goals to meet those needs. At present, IEPs are not legally required in our school system as the provision requiring IEPs in the EPSEN ACT is not implemented.

Our call comes after Teachers’ Unions the ASTI and TUI advised their members in Autumn 2018 to stop implementing IEPs for students with additional needs, such as those with Down syndrome, due to a lack of funding and adequate training provided to their members.

The answer to a Parliamentary Question about the implementation and resourcing of the EPSEN Act 2004 makes it clear that the Government accepts that the funds needed for its full implementation have not, and will not, be provided. The current Department of Education and Skills’ position seems to be that schools are encouraged to implement large parts of the EPSEN Act without having the necessary resources.

We called for a plan to be initiated immediately to ensure that teachers are resourced and trained to meet the needs of all their students.

Since then, our ‘Please Don’t Leave Us Behind’ campaign has seen us host a briefing for politicians in Leinster House, we have appeared in front of the Joint Oireachtas Education Committee, we have met directly with both Unions and met with the Department of Education and Skills. Still, nothing has changed. We remain deeply disappointed and angered that the education needs of children with intellectual disabilities remains a bargaining tool between Teachers’ Unions and the Department of Education and Skills. Children with Down syndrome are being activity discriminated against. It’s shameful that 15 years after the EPSEN Act was first became law, it has still not been fully enacted.

We continue to call for a plan to be initiated immediately to ensure that teachers are resourced and trained to meet the needs of all their students.

We will keep you posted on our progress.

Thanks and have a lovely weekend.

With very best wishes,

Gary Owens
Down Syndrome Ireland


Reminder: Wednesday 3rd April @ 7pm.

Hi All

Aoife Gaffney, National Employment & Projects Officer and Rosalind Walsh, Adult Education Officer from Head Office are visiting the Branch.

They will visit on Wednesday 3rd April @ 7pm in the Conyngham Arms Hotel Slane to give a talk to interested members.  They will present on the entire Ability Programme (Latch On, MOTE, Work Skills) and talk in more detail then about Work Skills and employment links.



Down Syndrome Ireland’s Ability programme was launched in September 2018 and is aimed at providing further education and preparation for employment for our over 18s. The programme has been developed in conjunction with Accenture, a global management consultancy firm and with the support of funding from Pobal.

In its complete format, the programme runs for 4 days per week from September to June for 2 years with modules in Practical Literacy and Technology; Decision Making, Rights and Responsibilities; Work Skills and preparation for employment.

Louth/Meath branch will run and subsidise the programme from September 2019 if there is sufficient interest. Location will depend on the level of interest. It is an option to run just parts of the programme and this may suit members who have already completed Latch on and Mote programmes who would prefer to do the only Work Skills module. Again, it will depend on demand.

Planning for a class in September 2019 must begin NOW. If you are interested in any way or would like more details, please contact;

Geraldine Regan, 087 8157542, or

Audrey O’Dowd, 086 0537177,

Expression of interest is not a commitment to enrolling in the programme.

Further details in the attached flyer and also in the current Down Syndrome Ireland magazine.

Adult Education & Employment Scheme 2018 3 (1)