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(UK) "Collapsing mental health (autism) support"; 'dreadfully failed'

Feb 11, 2022, Schools Week: Collapsing mental health support pits parents against schools--Some parents reported for 'fabricating' mental illness

Vulnerable children are being “dreadfully failed” on mental health support as a lack of funding and expert help pits schools and families against one another…. Huge waiting lists for external support, a lack of highly qualified experts inside schools, external pressures around attendance targets and exam results, and lack of funds to buy in help have contributed to mainstream schools failing to support some families. … Darren Northcott, national official for education at teachers’ union NASUWT, said the “first port of call” for improving attendance should be supportive measures to help the family. Sarah Wild, headteacher of Limpsfield Grange School, a special school for girls with autism in Surrey, said “mainstream schools don’t always understand that everything is about relationships”…. Another issue reported by parents is frequently not feeling believed by schools. Two mothers claim they were accused by schools of causing a “fabricated or induced illness” in their child, despite the pupil later getting a diagnosis. The NHS say this is a “rare form of child abuse”. One mother had to wait a year until her nine-year-old son was assessed by a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in 2020. During this time she says her son’s behaviour became “really worrying” and he wrote down that he wished to die. However at a multi-agency meeting, school staff reported her son was “fine in school” and they were concerned about parental fabrication of illness, she says. The child was diagnosed with autism by CAMHS in May 2020. “There was no apology for questioning for me, from the professionals in school who just tried to shut me down,” says the mother. Schools Week could not contact the school because the parent was not happy to provide consent. Another parent also claims her school’s headteacher reported her to CAMHS for a fabricated induced illness after she put in a complaint against a classroom teacher. But she said: “It was so lucky CAMHS took my daughter’s suicidal ideation seriously.” Schools Week contacted the school but received no response. CHILDREN’S NEEDS ‘PUSHED TO ONE SIDE’ Parents also report schools being unwilling to change school rules to accommodate neurodevelopmental differences…. A survey of 1,000 parents with a child on SEN support, published last year by Special Needs Jungle, warned “some parents believe, with good reason, that their children’s needs and education have been pushed to one side for the convenience of the majority”….. The levelling up white paper promised £30 million [$41M] over three years for councils to fund 10,000 more respite placements for disabled children to “give family carers a break”.


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