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(UK) Wales: Teachers accused of abusing autistic children had no training

Nov 11, 2022, Aberdare: Assault-accused school staff not autism trained – court


Teachers who allegedly assaulted severely autistic children had no training in dealing with their noise sensitivity needs, a court has heard. Mandy Hodges, 50, and Laura Murphy, 33, deny seven counts of assault by beating and cruelty to a child under 16. The court heard how children were left "in pain" after having their ear defenders "ripped" from their heads. The defendants say training for their jobs at Park Lane special school in Aberdare took "months and months". Other alleged incidents at the school, in Rhondda Cynon Taf, included children being "dragged" across the playground and one boy being roughly removed from a tricycle by the women. In a police interview, teacher Ms Murphy said children's ear defenders could be taken off "for many reasons" and rejected the suggestion taking them off could cause a child stress. , The teacher and teaching assistant at Park Lane special school in Aberdare have denied all charges. Ms Murphy, who had been working at the school for eight years at the time of the alleged offences, said she had been asked to take on the class of six severely autistic children just seven weeks beforehand. "There was no support, they were struggling to get a teacher, the children were quite challenging," she said, telling detectives it was "months and months before I had any training". The teacher said she did not know why she had removed the ear defenders of a child with sensory processing disorder, an incident which had been captured on CCTV in October 2020.

But she would often take them off children when they became anxious or violent to "take their mind off" whatever was upsetting them. "No stress or harm was caused," she said. Teaching assistant Mandy Hodges, 50, told officers she had worked at the school for five-and-a-half years but she too had "no proper autism training". She said she had always worked with older children before coming to Ms Murphy's class of six children aged eight, nine and 10 in September 2020…. Ms Hodges was captured on school CCTV taking the ear defenders from a nine-year-old boy with autism who had an acute sensitivity to noise. The boy's father previously told the court his son could not leave home without his defenders and that he "cannot function without them". But Ms Hodges told the court it was a way of calming him down when he became angry because there was a risk he could hurt himself and others….


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