Early Learning Unit

The Shine Early Learning Unit operates under a Group Tuition Scheme with Department of Special Education as part of the Home Tuition Scheme.  Any child attending the Shine Early Education Unit must first qualify under the Home Tuition Grant Scheme. Please contact us and we will explain the application process to you.

Grace O’Callaghan (ELU Manager) outlines the teaching approaches used at the Shine Early Learning Unit:


“At the Shine Early Learning Unit we aim to provide a learning model that allows each child to develop to his or her full potential. The teaching method is an eclectic model. Our focus is on communication and academic skill as well as play, self management and life skills. This is supported by evidence based autism specific teaching methodologies such as ABA, PECS and Teacch. We also utilise lamh, Aistear and social stories. Each child’s individual needs and requirements are evaluated when deciding on their individual learning approach. The teaching model is broad based and relevant and it incorporates all areas of the child’s wellbeing including physical and emotional development.”

Re-opening Update: Infection Prevention & Control Covid-19 Pandemic:

The Shine Early Learning Unit has followed the the infection prevention and control guidance, policies and procedures and protocols for the re-opening of childcare settings during the Covid-19 Pandemic provided by the HSE, NPSC and TUSLA .

It is important for parents and for those who deliver childcare to accept that no interpersonal activity is without risk of transmission of infection at any time. Parents must understand that some level of risk of infection is unavoidable as a part of a normal childhood. However, parents are very different with respect to their tolerance of infection risk and ability to accept infection and the harm it causes. Therefore, it is important that all of our parents have a clear understanding of the benefits and risk of childcare and that it is not possible to guarantee that infection can be prevented in any setting either in a childcare centre, school or in the home.

You Can Read Information & Guidance for the Parents/Guardians of Children Attending the Shine Early Learning Unit during the Covid-19 Pandemic here:

Click Here to View the Document:  Information & Guidance for the Parents:Guardians of Children Attending the Shine Early Learning Unit during the Covid-19 Pandemic


How to apply for a place in our Early Learning Unit for September 2020:

The Shine ELU operates as a Group Tuition Service per the terms of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme funded by the Department of Education & Skills. Please read the qualifying criteria below to ensure that your child is eligible to apply for a place.

  1. Children must be 3 or 4 years of age on or before 01st September, 2020.
  2. The child must not currently have an offer of an Early Intervention placement in another School/Early Intervention Setting.
  3. The child must have a confirmed diagnosis of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) from an accepted diagnostic source (Multi Disciplinary Report, Private Psychologist Report).
  4. Your child must be able to attend the Shine Early Intervention Service for 4 hours per day/5 days a week (Mon – Fri). The Transport Grant is not available to children attending a HT Group Scheme Service.

Please download and complete the ELU Registration of Interest form below and return it to us along with a copy of your child’s diagnostic report by email or post.

Download 2020 Registration of Interest Form Here:  ELU Application 2020

Email us: elu@shineireland.com

You can email the registration form to us or send it by post to: The Shine Centre, Weston View, Ballinrea Road, Carrigaline, Co Cork P43 E392


 About Our Early Learning Unit:

The Shine Early Learning Unit opened in 2005 to meet the pre-school educational needs of children with autism. The Unit expanded rapidly and in 2007 we moved to a new bright and modern premises in Carrigaline just outside Cork city. The Early Learning Unit (ELU) works with children with a diagnosis of autism aged between 3 and 5 years. The ELU operates 3 classes of 6 students with 4 fully qualified staff for each class group and children attend for 20 hours per week. (5 x 4 hour sessions).
Children who attend the Early Learning Unit will engage in both one to one work, paired work and group work during their school day. The focus is always on the individual learning needs of each child and to enhance communication and socialisation and an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is developed for each student. The children will also spend time in the Sensory Room to assist them with their sensory needs and there is also lots of time for fun and structured play in the Soft Play room and Sensory Garden.


The Shine Early Learning Unit provides a consistent and regular programme of early education and intervention for a full academic year and works with the children to develop their self management, communication and academic skills. The main emphasis of the programmes offered at the Unit are early intervention based and aim to address key areas in the child’s diagnostic reports and to ultimately prepare children for entry into an appropriate educational setting. Each child will benefit from a year of targeted early intervention prior to moving on to the mainstream education system and this will assist hugely in preparing them for their new educational environment.


The Shine Early Learning Unit is located on the Ballinrea Road on the Cork city side of Carrigaline. The building is bright and modern and is equipped with large classrooms, a sensory room, a soft play room, play therapy room, life skills room, sensory garden and outdoor play area. At Shine we take security very seriously and the building has an external and interanl keypad entry system and integrated security camera system. The building was also equipped with an upgraded and integrated Fire Safety System in September 2018.

The Shine Early Learning Unit is subject to annual inspections from TUSLA and the Department of Special Education. To view our most recent Department of Education Report please click here



What our parents say:

“Our daughter Emily has spent almost two years in Shine. She loves it. She is the happiest she has ever been and her teachers are amazing.  Would highly recommend Shine to any new parent facing a diagnosis of ASD for their child. It was our first port of call when  Emily was diagnosed and they  gave us so much information on things we needed to do both for Emily and as a family. We will always be grateful to all the staff at Shine.”

Shane & Amy McSweeney (Emily’s Parents)

The Shine Centre has been nothing short of life changing, not just for our 5 year old Harry, but to us as family. From when we received Harry’s diagnosis Shine were invaluable in helping  & guiding us through what to do & how best to help & support Harry. Harry has absolutely blossomed being in the Early Intervention Unit (ELU). He LOVES it! Each & every person within the ELU are incredible & are at the top of their game. It sounds corny but they do help Harry & all the other kids SHINE! They genuinely care about the kids, they make them smile, they want them to be their best possible self & they help us as parents see the amazing little people that they are & can be. Coming across SHINE & having them in our lives has & continues to be one of the best thing that ever happened to us! They truly are amazing

Neil O’Connell  (Harry’s Dad)

“The Shine Centre has been our lifeline since receiving our son’s diagnosis. The help, support and advice that the staff there have given to our family has been invaluable and is something we will be eternally grateful for. Adam has been attending the Early Learning unit in Shine since last September and is thriving as a result. To see the smile on his face going in and coming out of there each day is the best feeling ever as a parent. My little boy’s confidence is growing every day and I have the wonderful staff at Shine to thank for that. The depth of knowledge, experience and understanding of Autism among the staff is incredible. We feel that we have been given a “golden ticket” when it comes to accessing early intervention. Although Adam will be moving on next year (even though it would be great if he could stay there forever!!!!!!), the staff at Shine have truly prepared him for his journey ahead.

Susan and Pat(Adam’s Mum and Dad)

The Shine Centre has been a lifeline to our family over the last two years. They have given us tremendous support and guidance and have helped us through some really difficult times. The Early Learning Unit is a happy fun and safe environment and my daughter loves going to school every morning. She is surrounded by highly qualified people who are enthusiastic about helping her to reach her full potential. The staff are friendly, kind, approachable, professional and passionate about their work. They are a constant support to us as parents, helping us during the hard times and celebrating with us when our children reach their goals and milestones. They really care about our children and I am forever grateful for everything that Shine have done for my family.

Aoife Williams (Abbie’s mum)





Shine Early Learning Unit:  Our Teaching Methodology

The key development areas for a child with a diagnosis of autism are not just academic. Some will benefit immediately from academic based learning but a lot of ASD children have to “learn how to learn”. Difficulties with communication skills, anxiety and self management of emotions can often get in the way of the child’s ability to learn. Therefore it is vital that these issues are addressed in the overall educational approach. The ability to communicate and self manage behaviours will lead to improved outcomes for that student and set the foundation for learning as the child progresses through the education system.

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 The Key Development Areas:

• Academic Development
• Behavioural Management
• Communication
• Self Management
• Coping Skills
• Transitioning
• Self Care Skills – (Toileting)
• Development of Fine & Gross Motor Skills

An IEP (Individual Educational Plan) is devised for each child at the start of the academic year. The IEP is constantly monitored and will be modified and augmented at stages throughout the year to reflect the child’s progress.

Key Components of our Teaching & Learning Methodology:


ABA: This is a science that is applied to improve socially significant behaviour. It uses positive reinforcement as a tool to build skills, reduce behaviour that is challenging and encourages positive learning. It aims to make meaningful improvements in behaviour and can show how those improvements came about, through the collection, graphing and analysis of data.

PECS: This is an augmentative communication system for children and adults with limited or no speech. It is widely used with children with autism as a means of communication; it teaches functional communication allowing the user to communicate their wants and needs and reduces frustration. It can be used in all settings, at home, school and when transitioning from one place to another. Advanced language concepts can also be taught using PECS. It uses positive reinforcement and prompting strategies to teach the children how to use the system independently.

TEACCH: This is a teaching method that manipulates the environment to encourage learning and develop independent skills. This is done using visual supports, it is well known for its flexibility and its ability to support each individual child with ASD. This works well for children with autism as many are visual learners.

Lamh: This is a sign system used by those with learning and communication difficulties. It allows them to see as well as hear what is being communicated as speech is always used in conjunction with the signs. It can help those who have limited and unclear speech to communicate with others. It encourages eye-contact and can give children confidence to try new words.

Social stories: This is a story that describe a situation, event or skill that the reader needs help with. They are designed to give the reader social cues, perspective and common responses to those situations. This information is given in a reassuring manner that is easily understood by the reader.

Early Education Unit Ethos

Our Early Intervention Unit believes in the importance of a well-rounded education encompassing all areas of development in the child:

• Communication
• Cognitive and Academic
• Play & Social Skills
• Physical development
• Self-Help Skills

We promote a caring enthusiastic learning environment in partnership with home, family and other professionals and we strive to develop the following qualities in our students:

• Acceptance of Difference
• Respect
• Confidence
• Patience
• Gentleness
• Motivation
• Independence

Each child considered for a place in the Early Intervention Unit must comply with the qualifying criteria as laid down by the Department of Education for educational provision under the Home Tuition Scheme. (This criteria is reviewed by the Dept. of Education and is subject to change.)



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