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(UK) Leeds: 11 yr old with autism: no school for 2 yrs; finally a special school place

Aug 11. 2022, Leeds Live: Leeds boy, 11, who missed two years of school 'feels like he has a future' as he's finally accepted https://www.leeds-live.co.uk/news/leeds-news/leeds-boy-11-who-missed-24718515

N. England

An 11-year-old Leeds boy who has been isolated out of school for two years is 'over the moon' after finally being offered a place to go back to school.
Joshua Lee has autism and is also believed to have a condition of autism called Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), where following everyday expectations and demands causes extreme anxiety. Joshua has been struggling over the past two years after being rejected from four separate schools who said they were unable to accommodate his needs.

After the long years of fighting and Joshua struggling isolated from his peers, he has now been offered a place at a school in North Yorkshire for September following a long assessment process. He has been left overjoyed by the news and finally feeling like 'he has a future'.

Joshua's dad Oliver, from Collingham, told LeedsLive: "The day that we found out Joshua was actually going to go, for us as parents, it was an amazing moment we'll remember for the rest of our lives. After the last few years this is even better than winning the lottery.

"It's taken three years of fighting to do this. To know that he is going to have a chance is amazing. The future looked bleak and now it doesn't. We have a picture of him hugging his grandad when he found out….

Back in March 2022, Joshua's parents Oliver and Rebecca were feeling like they'd been failed by schools in Leeds. Joshua was feeling increasingly isolated away from the social environments of school, but had been turned down by four schools with provisions for children with autism in the Leeds local authority area. …

Joshua was diagnosed with autism with elements of demand avoidance when he was around year three age. PDA is not a widely accepted diagnosis, and Oliver said lots of places in the UK don't recognise it. It has many similarities with autism, and the National Autistic Society describes it as an extreme avoidance of everyday demands and expectations due to them causing extreme anxiety.

He moved out of mainstream education in 2019 as his parents felt it was best to stop him being discriminated against or bullied. The local authority attempted to get Joshua placed in a school, but Oliver said his mental health really struggled and he was "trying to jump out of windows".

Joshua moved to home schooling, and went on to be rejected by four schools with provision for autistic children who said they couldn't meet his needs.

"Our local authority - Leeds - will be providing him with transport to the new school since it's up in North Yorkshire," Oliver added….

The isolation has left Joshua anxious, stressed and feeling separated from his peers