A NINE-year-old boy with autism, who has been refused a place in 22 primary schools to date, will find out in the next few days if he will have a school place next September.
Casey Naughton from Daingean in Co Offaly has Asperger’s syndrome, a type of autism which leads to him becoming aggravated if he is unable to communicate properly, often kicking tables and biting staff and having to be taken out of class.
He was expelled from a primary school in February because of the regular disruption caused by his behaviour. An appeal against this decision was refused and since then, his mother Lisa has applied to 22 other schools to enrol her son but each one has turned down her applications.
Despite the availability of a special needs assistant and specialist teaching resources for any school which would accept him, Casey will have gone four months without any schooling when the summer holidays begin next week.
Ms Naughton said she is frustrated at the barriers she have kept coming up against in the attempts to provide an education for Casey.
“His behaviour problems are part of his disability. It’s not that he’s a bad child. He gets extremely frustrated and he doesn’t know how to handle it,” she said.
“Schools have told me they’re full to capacity or they don’t have the resources for Casey. I had one school tell me that parents would be up in arms if they took a child like that. But that child’s my son and he deserves an education,” said Ms Naughton.
The board of the latest school to which she has applied will consider Casey’s enrolment application on Thursday and Ms Naughton is keeping her fingers crossed that there will be good news. She asked what kind of life in society he will be able to fit into and what will happen when he’s a teenager or young adult?
“Or should we just give up on him now? Casey has absolutely no chance whatsoever, there’s no school for him, nobody’s willing to take him and I’m sick of banging my head off the wall asking,” she said.
“I’m being put from one department to another department and I’d like to make a personal appeal to Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe to just please help my son,” said Ms Naughton.
The National Educational Welfare Board has been treating the case as a priority and is working with other support agencies, including the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), to find a school place for Casey. It has helped to arrange nine hours a week of home tuition for him, as well as supporting the family in making applications to other schools, as well as with appeals against any refusals to enrol him.
The Department of Education said it has been in contact with the NCSE and the National Educational Psychological Service, which will both provide the supports as soon as a school place is confirmed.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved