Girl with autism misses months of school after being 'left in limbo'

The nine-year-old has been waiting for months for a space at a special needs primary school.

Glasgow girl with autism misses months of school after being ‘left in limbo’ LDRS

A nine-year-old girl with autism has been “left in limbo” waiting for a space at a special needs primary.

Mum Leanne Creswell said her daughter Ella hasn’t attended school in Glasgow since December, as she finds it too frightening.

Ms Creswell is fighting for Ella to be moved to a new school that caters for children with special needs.

And while the council has said it is trying to find the right support for Ella, Leanne said she is in limbo waiting to find out. 

Ella had attended Balornock Primary in the north east of the city but found mainstream very upsetting and struggled to cope. 

Leanne, of Blackhill, said Ella would end up having meltdowns and become extremely stressed after being in school, which led to her staying at home. 

Explaining how it impacted her, Ms Creswell said: “She is terrified of the school bell, hates loud noises and doesn’t like to be touched. 

“She needs somewhere that is quiet with fewer children and more one to one support with adults. She needs to be in a special needs school. She’s not been in since December – she only goes 30 minutes a week on a Friday.”

Praising Balornock Primary as fabulous, she said she can’t “fault the school” and its children who are “lovely” but added that Ella feels she “sticks out like a sore thumb.”

The 36-year-old who works from home as an administrator is worried Ella is falling behind.

She added: “I will do tasks with Ella at home but I’m not qualified. She is keen to learn and is an intelligent wee girl. She spends the day at home not interacting. Academically she is not near the level expected of her age. There is no way she is ready for P5.”

The mother-of-two said the family are in limbo as the council has said it is looking into the issue but there has been no resolution put forward.

“We are so close to the end of the school term,” she said.  “Is there any point in buying a school uniform? I don’t know where she is going to be in August.”

Local councillor Audrey Dempsey who has been supporting Leanne said it is “unfair” that the family have experienced “radio silence” while they wait and stressed the need for the council to get it right for every child. 

A council spokeswoman said: “We are working with the family to find the most appropriate, targeted support to meet the needs of this pupil.

“We understand that during this process it can be an anxious time for families, and we will do everything that we can to let the family know the outcome from our education specialists as quickly as possible.

“The most important factor is the child and the right help that we can put in place to assist their learning.”

Labour councillor Dempsey said she met with Ms Creswell and Ella “very quickly” after they had reached out to local councillors.

The Springburn and Robroyston politician said she “instantly saw how mainstream education was not suitable for Ella and by leaving her there, we were actually failing her.”

She added: “Steps have been taken I believe, by education, to put something in place for Ella but in the process, mum has experienced a radio silence, which in itself causes panic, anxiety and uncertainty. This is unfair.”

Councillor Dempsey continued: “We can’t just say we will get it right for every child, we have to actually do that and do it as quickly as we possibly can, whilst keeping the family informed and offering regular reassurance that the child hasn’t been lost or forgotten in the system, because in reality, this is what many parents feel.

“This is our fault as a council and our education department and we have to keep lines of communication open at all times.

“Education should not be a one size fits all system, Its priority has to be meeting the children’s individual needs to give them the best chance in life we possibly can.”

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