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(UK) Scotland: Mom: autistic boy isolated with 2 aides/no teacher; "complex needs" ignored

Sept 30, 2022, Daily Record: Scots mum slams council for keeping autistic son isolated from classmates

A Scots mum says her autistic son is being "ostracised" from his peers because council education bosses are unable to accommodate his complex additional support needs. The young son of Hailey Paolozzi, 29, from Broomhouse, Edinburgh, was diagnosed with autism at the age of four after being given extra support in nursery. But Edinburgh Live reports that the child, who started school aged five, is currently not taught alongside his peers, instead forced to live out his school days alongside two pupil support assistants, with no formal teacher. Hailey pleaded with Edinburgh City Council education bosses to transfer her lad to a specialist school so he can get the support and access to education he deserves. However, the authority refused the request in a move that baffled and flattened the family. She said: "We would have liked him to do nursery for another year [but] this was not an option due to his birthday, so it was recommended he start mainstream school with a pupil support assistant. We were on a 'see how it goes' basis, as primary one is seen as an assessment year: this means a registered disabled child having to prove for a year that mainstream school isn't the right fit for them."

School bosses gave her son - who we have anonymised - a dedicated pupil support assistant, a workstation, professional support and staggered start and finish times. However, the youngster experienced sensory overload and impulsive erratic behaviour in the busy classroom, and experts believed some areas of his development were consistent with an 18-month-old toddler, rather a five-year-old.

Hailey submitted an application to Edinburgh City Council's Education Placement Group earlier this year to transfer her son to a specialist school. But the panel refused the application on the grounds that he should "remain in a mainstream school modelling his peers" -- in other words, education bosses hoped his classmates' behaviour might rub off on him…. Hailey has appealed the decision but has also turned to a local MSP for support and is considering a legal case with the help of the Govan Law Centre. But with each passing day, she says, her son's education is getting worse - and nowhere near what she expected from the Scottish Government's landmark Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) policy…. Essentially my son is being babysat by pupil support assistants, who truly are the ones who are making his schooling as positive as they can, and do an amazing job.

"They do not get the recognition, pay or treatment they deserve. There is no teacher involvement, he's not following a curriculum and the GIRFEC standard is non-existent. I can't fathom how forcing my son to remain in an environment he can't cope with is going to give him any chance of an education.

"He is riddled with anxiety and fear, and everyday it is getting worse. There are so many children and parents like ourselves who are being failed by the council and I feel he is being seen as just a number. The EPG are a group of people who couldn't pick my son out of a line up of five kids and they have the power to make a decision about his education and future….

Edinburgh City Council said there was teacher involvement in designing activities for assistants to lead with Hailey's son. The Education Placement Group was unable to provide an update on the appeal, or explain why the youngster is not receiving attention from a teacher.

Hailey Paolozzi with her young son (Image: supplied)

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