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(UK) Runcorn: Autistic 12 yr old refused special school place; faces suspensions

Dec 6, 2020, Liverpool Echo: Parents say autistic boy, 12, 'branded troublemaker' because school can't handle his condition
Eastern England
The parents of a boy with autism have said their son is being “punished” for his condition after years of trying to get a place at a special school. 12-year-old Kyle Law, from Runcorn, has struggled at mainstream schools that have been unable to manage his condition, leading to him losing confidence and missing significant parts of his education. Darren and Lisa first tried to get Kyle, who has both autism and ADHD, into a special school several years ago and have tried repeatedly to get an education, health and care plan (EHCP) for him so he can get the support he needs. However, despite being told by his primary school, Ditton Primary, that they would apply for an EHCP, no application was made and the couple are now having to go through the process again with his high school, the Grange in Runcorn. But this process can take the best part of a year, and in the meantime Kyle is likely to miss even more school. Last year alone, he spent more time off school than in school. Lisa said: “He has his ups and downs. For the last few years it’s been really tough for him. “His attendance is down to 40% because if we send him in, they’re sending him in to fail. “He isn’t a mainstream child and he needs to be in a special school but they’re trying to treat him like a mainstream child.” Since the start of the new school year in December, Darren said, Kyle has been off for around 10 weeks and this week was excluded for two days due to behaviour problems linked to his special needs. Darren said: “They’re not listening, they’re not actually doing anything for his needs.” Lisa said Kyle’s condition meant he struggled in school and grew frustrated, but his teachers could only respond as if he were a mainstream student and ended up kicking him out of the classroom as they had no way of handling him otherwise. She said: “He doesn’t like big crowds, he doesn't like loud noises, but he’s also a child who makes noises when he is concentrating, so the teachers shout at him. “They had no support with him whatsoever. Every time something kicks off in the classroom, it’s get Kyle out.” Kyle’s experience as an autistic child in a mainstream school is not unique. Applications for EHCPs have soared in recent years leading to long waits even once applications have been filed - something that is yet to happen in Kyle’s case. In Halton, mum Amy Hannah launched a campaign against cuts to special needs funding in 2019 after waiting more than five years to get help for her son, Marley. In the meantime, autistic children continue to struggle in mainstream schools, with the schools themselves often choosing to exclude children because they are unable to provide the right support. Two years ago, this practice led to a judge ruling that such exclusions were unlawful because they discriminated against autistic children. A legal loophole meant that schools could exclude children with “a tendency to physical abuse”, even if that tendency was linked to their autism and the school had made no adjustments to take this into account. But in August 2018, Judge Alison Rowley said: “Aggressive behaviour is not a choice for children with autism”. The judge added: “To my mind it is repugnant to define as ‘criminal or antisocial’ the effect of the behaviour of children whose condition (through no fault of their own) manifests itself in particular ways so as to justify treating them differently”…


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