Life in Limbo

While putting life on hold, yet again, in the hope of call-backs from two more special schools within travelling distance I’m left seething inside.

How dare they not take this seriously, can’t they see this is a 911 emergency? Don’t they see a child being denied an education while they tick forms and pass them between departments? Don’t they realise that when they put it in their pending tray and lock up their office at night that that means another sleepless night while I toss and turn trying to come up with a Plan C, Plan D….Plan Z, in case they turn us down?

I’m not saying they don’t care, I’m not saying they aren’t trying but while our children are just names on a file, ticks or crosses on a chart of eligibility they forget that at the other end is a family in turmoil, a family struggling through a minefield of legalities, a child feeling worthless and unwanted, a mother feeling powerless.

The entire education system in the UK is not ‘fit for purpose’ when it comes to autism. Our children cannot cope with a mainstream environment but LEA-maintained special schools cannot take our children, as in most cases our children are too academically-able to meet the criteria.

It’s about time that LEAs realised that needing special school provision isn’t just about the academic and start providing special schools for the 1:88 children with autism, the children who could excel academically if their educational setting was truly ‘autism friendly’ and not just a case of “well yes, the class is noisy, distracting, cluttered …but, look we use a visual timetable so we ARE autism-friendly” which seems to be the norm for mainstream schools trying to be inclusive.

Until that time my son and many, many other autistic children will continue to exist in educational limbo, unwelcome in both mainstream and special schools, with their parents desperately fighting for something that neuro-typical parents take for granted – an education for their child.

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