East Belfast mum talks of ‘absolute and utter hell’ in trying to get autistic daughter school place

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A Belfast mom has stated she has been going via “absolute and utter hell” for the final three months as she tries to discover an acceptable school place for her daughter, who has particular academic wants.

ver 300 youngsters with an announcement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) are with out a school place for this September, together with 91 who’re ready for a place in a particular school and 202 which are looking for locations in a mainstream school.

Tina Blackburn informed the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme she had to take away her autistic daughter – who has had an announcement of SEN for a few years – from mainstream school in March of this 12 months, “because she was actually traumatised from the experience she had been having”.

“I can only describe what we’ve been going through as absolute and utter hell,” Ms Blackburn stated. 

“I don’t think anybody has shed more tears than I have. I’ve been planning and knowing from [my daughter was in] P4 that she needed to be in a special educational unit for a mainstream school, just like her older brother attends.”

The east Belfast mum added: “I did everything I possibly could to make that happen and have constantly been met with brick walls. The result has been very predictable. She went to a mainstream school, she was given a full-time classroom assistant. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for a number of reasons.”

Ms Blackburn stated that final week, she acquired a telephone name to say that the brand new school she had chosen for her daughter was full, however she criticised the education Authority (EA), whom she stated had her daughter’s assertion on their desk for 3 weeks.

She believes the school they as a substitute had urged for her little one to attend is “utterly inappropriate”.

“What hurt me the most is that I felt they were not even reading her diagnosis because if they had, they would realise she suffers from crippling and chronic anxiety and the thought of putting my daughter on a bus and sending her her 40 minutes to an hour down the road, to and from school every day – I couldn’t imagine it.”

More than 22,000 pupils in Northern Ireland at present have an announcement of SEN, in accordance to statistics from the Department of education.

The education Authority (EA) has stated there has been a “important rise” in demand for particular school locations and said that it’s “dedicated to guaranteeing that every and each little one receives an acceptable placement that can help and cater to their particular person wants”.

“Our Special Educational Needs (SEN) Team are working closely with the family to identify a suitable place, taking parental preference into careful consideration,” the spokesperson continued.

However, Ms Blackburn cited difficulties she has confronted in trying to get responses from the EA and described her ordeal as “a cat and mouse game all the time where I’m banging my head against the wall”.

Referring to her daughter, she stated; “Can you think about how you’ll really feel if any person informed you that you did not have a school to go to, that you just did not belong wherever? You’re already discovering it troublesome to navigate world wide as a result of you may’t perceive social cues, you have got anxiousness, you already really feel completely different.

“It’s mentally, emotionally and physically draining. I don’t feel the EA has been there to support me or a lot of parents.”

Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has additionally referred to as on the education minister and the EA to deal with the “deeply concerning” lack of school locations for youngsters with SEN. 

“Given the yearly increase in the number of children with special educational needs, the education minister should have prepared and planned for this eventuality,” he stated.

“These youngsters and their households want certainty on what preparations will probably be in place come September, and I might urge the education minister and the education Authority to work to deal with this problem.

“This is why we need an Executive up and running and Ministers in place so that we can invest in education services and ensure young people get the support that they need.”

The Department of education has additionally been contacted for additional remark.

The EA added: “Parents of children with a statement of SEN with any concerns are encouraged to contact their Link Officer directly or the SEN Helpline which is open Monday – Friday from 9am – 5pm on 028 9598 5960. Further information is available on our website: https://www.eani.org.uk/parents/special-educational-needs-sen/sen-contact-details

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