Teen With Autism May Need To Stop Attending School Due To Special Educational Needs

Special Educational Needs: Teen With Autism May Have To Quit School | Future Education Magazine


If a classroom assistant is not made available before the start of the school year, a teenager with autism can be forced to drop out of their GCSEs. The family of Toni Humphreys requested assistance in March, but the Education Authority (EA) has still not decided whether to provide it. The EA claimed that it was still making efforts to support all kids with Special Educational Needs (SEN) statements.

Toni told BBC News NI, “I really struggled to stay focused and stay on task with work without a classroom assistant.”

Toni, who uses they/them pronouns, received her initial autism diagnosis when she was 12 years old.

They admitted that having a part-time teaching assistant initially had made a difference in school because they had to retake the first year of their GCSE coursework.

According to Toni, people with autism may “get very panicky” when they feel overwhelmed.

“Having a classroom assistant with me to ground me, help me know I have someone there to look out for me and be able to support me, helps me get to classes a lot better,” Toni said.

Because I feel that I’m not being heard and that I won’t get the help I need to be able to perform well in school, I really struggle to get into classrooms or even communicate to others without a classroom assistant.

Planned future careers

Toni’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) statement was reviewed on March 2 and a request was made for them to have full-time assistance from a teaching assistant so they may complete their GCSEs in Year 12.

A Special Educational Needs (SEN) statement, which is a formal document, outlines a child’s needs and the kind of care they ought to get at school.

Michael Humphreys, Toni’s father, claimed to have spoken with the EA several times since March to seek clarification.

We began to feel a little uneasy in June, he claimed.

The teachers and the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) are off, so it goes without saying that school is out, but we still haven’t heard anything.

“With Toni’s autism, it’s crucial that plans be made and that everyone is aware of what is going on.

“The EA responded and stated that the review process had not yet begun, which as you might guess was extremely unsettling.

“They hadn’t even begun the evaluation, and we needed someone in a month.

“There are now two weeks till classes resume. Toni is probably not going to attend any classes where there isn’t support accessible.

Being successful in their GCSEs, according to Toni, was “vital” for their future employment goals.

They stated, “I want to work in the mental health field, particularly with people who have autism.”

“I feel like I can really connect with the people there, and I feel like I can understand them a lot better.”

“Need to know ahead of time”

Toni added that they were “fairly disappointed” but were trying not to panic.

They claimed that if they were going to receive a classroom assistant, they would have liked to know in advance so that they could “plan accordingly” and decide whether to continue attending school or drop out.

Two years ago, I was on the verge of having to drop out, but the school saved the day. I sincerely hope that situation never arises again.

“Knowing things beforehand really helps so I can mentally and emotionally prepare for it.”

EA continued to “work to ensure that all children with a statement of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) receive a placement and support which fully meets their needs to ensure that they are happy, learning, and succeeding, and this remains our top priority,” a spokesperson for the organisation told BBC News NI.

We are firmly dedicated to keeping families fully updated throughout August. “We fully understand the anxiety of parents/carers and the impact on those children and young people waiting for confirmation of support for September.”

Additionally, they stated that anyone with queries might get in touch with their link officer directly or the special educational needs and disabilities helpline.

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