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(Canada) Langford, BC: Mom forced to start her own school for sons with autism; "lack of support"

Jan 26, 2022, Victoria, BC, Saanich News: Langford mom starts own school amid lack of support for neurodivergent sons https://www.saanichnews.com/news/langford-mom-starts-own-school-amid-lack-of-support-for-neurodivergent-sons/

Initially supported by multiple families, mother of two sons on autism spectrum foots bill herself Parents of children with learning disabilities are working to overcome massive challenges to meet their kids’ needs amid a lack of support, including in some cases setting up home schools. Allison, a single parent of two kids from Langford, whose last name has been omitted due to fears of losing funding for her children’s education, said her kids weren’t getting the support they needed in the public school system. Her sons Max, 12, and Tristan, 10, are both on the autism spectrum…. She tried tutors and private schools, but neither worked. Eventually, she decided the best thing was to set up her own school. By pooling provincial autism support funding and a distance learning grant, she built a classroom inside her home and, together with a couple of other parents with children in similar situations, hired a teacher and an occupational therapist to home school the kids, getting it all running in January 2020. “They get way less funding than they would if they were in the school system,” she said. “But they’re getting way more support with the little funding they get, because it’s geared towards their specific needs.” Through grants and distance learning companies, she has secured specific textbooks and a tailored curriculum which benefits her sons, resources to which the public school system doesn’t give them access. In a joint statement, Sooke School District associate superintendent David Strange and district principal of inclusive education services Janine Brooks said SD62 provides “seamless continuation of supports designed to support student learning and goals set out in individual education plans.” Those resources include access to support staff and technology like Chromebooks. “Relationships are a key part of our work with our students and families, as is personalized support and services (which) include a mix of whole class sessions, small group sessions and one-to-one sessions as needed,” the statement said….. “The district has replacement protocols and processes in place to back fill absences and we have staff in place to support learner needs,” the statement continued. “In today’s context this can be challenging, but we continue to work hard to ensure students are supported.” Despite those efforts, Allison said, the public school system isn’t designed for neuro-diverse kids and leaves many to fall through the cracks. “I don’t think they could have done anything to accommodate their needs, because they needed to be in a place with less people, and less overhead light, and just the kind of space where they can have time to themselves,” she said. “Sometimes (the school districts) just don’t have the resources to accommodate their needs without having a special class.” After some initial kinks, Allison got the home school running smoothly and her sons were learning better. “Everything was going really well,” she said. “And then it just all fell apart in the last month.” When one of the original children moved away, Tristan took their spot just after the pandemic began. When family living expenses on the Island became too great, the other two children left, one a year ago, the other in December. That left Allison covering the costs of the teacher and therapist on her own…. The province announced in October plans to move away from individual funding for children with autism – $22,000 for those under age six, and $6,000 for those aged six to 18 – to a needs-based hub model by 2025. The province said switching models would help to accommodate approximately 8,300 more children who previously hadn’t qualified for funding. In a previous interview with Black Press, Minister of Children and Family Development Mitzi Dean didn’t comment on how the change would impact the funding each child gets, leaving Victoria parents worried….