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(UK) Belfast: Non-verbal 3-y-o has no preschool place; "demand...increasing"

Nov 4, 2022, Belfast Live: Mum's frustration as non-verbal son unable to get a place in nursery https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/mums-frustration-non-verbal-son-25424404

Reuben's mum Eileen said she has been told there are only places in mainstream schools which would not suit her son's needs

The mum of a non-verbal three-year-old with special needs has expressed her frustration after he was unable to get a place in nursery school.

Eileen Mulligan from Ballynahinch in Co Down said her son Reuben has missed out this year as there are no places available that would be able to cater to his additional needs. The young boy is non-verbal and has suspected autism and is currently going through the diagnosis process.

He has also had a statement of special educational needs that says that he would need to attend a nursery with a special needs provision.

However, Eileen says that she has been unable to get a place in a suitable nursery and that the Education Authority has only offered him a place in a mainstream one.

The mum added she is concerned that losing out will have a huge impact on Reuben's development, as he is due to attend school next year and she does not want him to miss out on this important experience….

"So far we have been told that there are no places available in a suitable nursery school and we have only been offered a place in a mainstream one, which would not be appropriate for Reuben at all….

Eileen is Reuben's full time carer and says he requires full-time supervision which she believes would not be available to him if he were to attend a mainstream nursery school.

A spokesperson for the Education Authority said: “As part of the statutory assessment process, our Special Educational Needs (SEN) Link Officers work closely with schools, parents/carers, educational psychologists and Health professionals to review the individual needs of each child on a case by case basis and determine the school placement which best meets each child’s needs. “The vast majority of children with additional needs are placed in mainstream schools, some with additional assistance. A small minority of children are placed in specialist provision. At a time when demand for such provision is increasing, the EA works closely with schools and parents/carers to accommodate each child’s needs, in many cases by offering a high level of additional assistance to support mainstream placement.

"Our early years pupil support services are also available to support children with special educational needs in pre-school settings. The EA continues to work with schools to increase specialist provision capacity.

Reuben has been unable to get a place in a suitable nursery school this year

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