Beds, Herts & Bucks

St Albans mother 'beyond upset' at schooling support for autistic son

Girl Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A charity said there was a lack of provision for children suffering from anxiety

A parent whose autistic son has not had a full education for two years as she battles to get support for him has told how she is "beyond upset".

Denise, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, said her 13-year-old son has a place in a school but his special educational needs (SEN) were not being catered for.

She has fought to get him assessed for an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP).

Hertfordshire County Council could not comment on the case but said it "works hard" to support children with SEN.

Denise's son was diagnosed with autism, ADHD and auditory processing disorder aged eight.

He is classed as "high-functioning" and was at a private primary school but started year seven in a state secondary in 2017.

Image copyright Family picture
Image caption At the start of the school term, Denise chose to upload a picture of her front door on social media, without child in front of it and with the hashtag #notbacktoschool.

"His anxiety was so bad he wouldn't leave the house for anything, let alone school," said Denise, who did not want to reveal her surname.

"I'd get him in for a bit and he'd sit in the library, but then he'd be out again."

'Extremely frustrating'

Denise said winning a battle to get her son assessed for an EHCP gave her a "grain of hope" but the overall process had been "extremely frustrating".

"I'm very angry - I've gone beyond upset," she said.

Liz Stanley, of Space, a charity supporting parents and carers of autistic children, said: "Denise is unfortunately not alone.

"Hertfordshire does have a significant lack of provision for those children that, for whatever reason, usually anxiety, actually can't set foot in a classroom.

"There is a massive lack of specialist provision places."

The council said since 2014, 26% of requests for assessment had been turned down.

It said it understood "the concerns of parents and carers".

Teresa Heritage, the councillor responsible for children, young people and families, said there had been a "dramatic increase" in demand for services for children and young people with SEN.

"The demand and cost pressures mean we need whole-system change if we are to meet the increase in need locally," she said. "This is at the heart of our SEN department transformation programme."

The council plans to invest about £3m in improvements over the next two years.

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