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(UK) Belfast: Mom pleads for school place for autistic 6y.o. son

July 20, 2023, Belfast: Distressed Belfast mum begs Education Authority to find her autistic son a school

A mother from north Belfast is pleading with the Education Authority to help find her six-year-old autistic son a school before the term begins in September.

while all of his friends have been allocated, Aaron Russell-Lytle has no school to go to as things stand, place.

His mum, Tami, is pregnant. She wants the best for Aaron and breaks down in tears over her battle to find a place in a suitable school for her child.

It’s a scenario being played out in many homes across Northern Ireland as the Education Authority struggles to find suitable places, in the right environment, for children with special educational needs (SEN).

Thousands of children are moving school. Those heading to mainstream schools will have known since the end of April where they are heading.

But it’s the most vulnerable — the families who need the security of knowing where their children will be attending school — who are the ones left to fight for places.

“I just don’t know what to do,” said Tami.

“Aaron has been through P1 and P2 at Greenwood, which only goes to P2. I knew he would have to move, but surely the Education Authority did as well?...

“It’s hard to understand why I’ve been left in this position,” she added. “I have applied to seven schools for places for Aaron but there are none available. I’ve had to do all of that on my own and I don’t really know where else to turn.

“Worst case scenario, if there is no place at a school for Aaron by September, I’ll have to consider leaving my job to school him at home, but I can’t really do that either.

“Aaron needs to learn that independence in the right environment. He deserves that chance as much as anyone else. I need my job. There’s nowhere left and there’s no point in Aaron going into a school where he will be stressed and he will cause stress.

“They (EA) have recommended three schools but they’re mainstream and Aaron will not cope in a mainstream class of more than six. I only have one month left.

“This is everyday for me,” said Tami. “Whenever Aaron left Greenwood his friends were talking about where they would be going to school, asking him where he was going. I couldn’t tell him so he couldn’t tell them and it has been difficult.

“I’m left doing the EA’s job for them, phoning schools to see if he can get a place. So far there’s nothing at all. I’m pregnant. This isn’t good enough. The stress is with me from the moment I wake to the moment I go to sleep. This isn’t what I need at the minute. “There should have been something in place to deal with the number of children needing specialist places long before now….


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