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(UK) N. Ireland: No schooling for autistic boy; 23% of students have special needs

Aug 21, 2018, BBC (NI): No school for five years for Antrim boy with autism https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-45175294 A 12-year-old boy has not been to school or received any education for most of the past five years because there are no suitable school places for him, according to his mother. Callum, who is from Crumlin, County Antrim, has autism.… He has tried both mainstream and special schools without success…. Callum's mother, Lorraine, who is also an autism campaigner, told BBC News NI her son struggles with the environment of mainstream schools. She said he came out of school following a suspension at the start of primary four, which was "the end of education for him". "I am really concerned that nobody cares what happens to Callum now," she said. She told BBC News NI that large classes, loud noises and the behaviour of other children sometimes upset him…. She said that at one special school he was left to play with "Lego and a blackboard" for hours at a time, even though he has "an average to high IQ"…. Lorraine said the effect on her family had been "huge", with Callum missing out on a "normal childhood, playing with friends and learning, things that other children take for granted". "I don't know what to do anymore, it seems like nobody is listening, nobody cares," she said…. Lorraine has said she would like to see autism-specific schools in Northern Ireland, which are not currently provided. She said she has asked the Education Authority for a home tutor for Callum, but nothing has been put in place yet. The most recent figures from the Department for Education show a steady increase in the number of children with special educational needs in Northern Ireland between 2003 and 2017. More than 79,000, 23% of all pupils in schools, have some form of special education needs. Autism NI chief Kerry Boyd said the charity receives about 4,000 calls every year, the majority of which relate to education. "The Education Authority states that every child has the right to a high quality standard of education in Northern Ireland but it is evident that this provision is not happening for many children who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder."…