St John of God has blamed a "significant reduction in funding" for its decision to withdraw services that it currently provides to teenagers with intellectual disabilities in south Dublin.

The Health Service Executive-funded programmes include vocational training for older teenagers as well as an after school life skills service for 14 to 16 year olds.

The services are attached to St Augustine's School in Blackrock, which caters for 162 students with conditions such as autism. 70 teenagers are currently availing of the two programmes.

Parents and students were informed recently of the decision to withdraw the life skills programme from the end of June, and to phase out the vocational training programme over the next two years.

The vocational training programme teaches skills such as car valeting, carpentry and horticulture. Some students have received job placements after the course.

Both programmes are aimed at helping students to live independent lives as adults.

The life skills programme teaches students social skills as well as how to do basic household and other tasks.

In a statement St John of God Community Services said the withdrawal of the programmes was necessitated by a significant reduction in funding and by a requirement to prioritise resources in Adult Residential and Respite Services.

It also said the decision was informed by a need "to respond to emergency and crisis situations".

It said the 26 staff affected would be redeployed elsewhere within St John of God Community Services.

The parent of a child attending the life skills programme has said that parents are "devastated" by the news.

James McDonnell, whose son has autism and a range of other intellectual disabilities said the services were vital for his son's future, and for his ability to be independent of his parents, like any other young person, by his mid-20s.

He said parents had been told when their children joined the school that they would have these services and now felt "let down".

Mr McDonnell said without such programmes his son and others were more likely to be "a burden" on the State in their adult years.

St John of God said the decision to withdraw the services "was not taken lightly".

The HSE, which funds the services, has said the decision to withdraw them was made by the board of St John of God.

A spokesperson said the HSE was aware of the decision. 

She said St John of God would be aware of national policy in the provision of services to young people with intellectual disabilities. That policy was, she said, to ensure an equitable service to all children.