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New Zealand: 6 y.o. with severe autism has no special school place

Nov 13, 2023, Stuff: Autistic boy on school waitlist since 2022 declined spot for 2024

Micah Tuivaiave, who loves playing outside on his scooter, swimming and getting lost in books, turns 6 in December. While many of his peers have already started school, he’s still at daycare, but not by choice.

Micah has severe non-verbal autism which means he requires dedicated attention in a school setting. However, the majority of specialist schools in the country are unable to take in new students due to resource issues.
Even though he’d been on a wait list since 2022, Micah was one of the 40-odd students at Rosehill specialist school in Papakura who were told last month that they would not have a spot in 2024.
Micah Tuivaiave is one of the many children with special needs who can't get a spot in a specialist school.

His mum, Jaz Tuivaiave, a registered nurse based in South Auckland, said that this was a huge disappointment after waiting for so long….

In the letter, the family was informed that in June 2024, they can put in another expression of interest for 2025.

Micah runs away and is not toilet trained, and now the only choice for the whānau is mainstream schooling or home school.

Micah’s mum, Jaz Tuivaiave, is concerned that Micah won’t receive the care he requires in mainstream schooling.

“Our local mainstream school is putting in support to try and help our son, but he is only allocated two hours of teacher aide funding,” Tuivaiave said.

“What do they expect us to do with the remaining school day? Do I have to quit my job in order to stay home with my son?

“I feel so let down by the whole education system,” she said. “My son has been at daycare, I pay $200 a fortnight for him to sit and do nothing as he is bored.”…

Micah will be legally required to attend school every day when he turns 6 in December.

Tuivaiave’s partner is a truck driver who’s out between 5am and 6pm, making it already challenging for them both to look after Micah during the day.

For now, Tuivaiave’s plan is to send Micah to the mainstream school for two hours with his allocated teacher-aide funding and then go back to daycare for the rest of the day, leading up to his sixth birthday.

While Micah prepares for primary school, his granddad will be helping him attend one hour of orientation every day.

Tuivaiave and her partner will struggle to take time off work to look after her son outside the two hours of teacher aide funding allocated to Micah.

Tuivaiave said without her husband’s parents’ help, they’d be doomed.

“We’d have to give up our jobs.”

However, when Micah turns 6 in December, he is legally required to attend school whenever it is open and the school board must take all the reasonable steps to ensure that students attend.

“This is unfair on the mainstream schools too, because they just don’t have the resources,” Tuivaiave said….

Micah Tuivaiave is one of the many children with special needs who can't get a spot in a specialist school.


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