Don't just blame the parents

3rd January 2003 at 00:00
REGARDING the "truancy sweep" article (TES, December 13), I should remind readers that some children out with their parents are in fact home-educated, like my 11-year-old son who has Asperger's Syndrome and significant Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

We cancelled his place at school when it became clear that teachers saw him as a nuisance, a disrupter, and a would-be vandal. They did nothing to help us to get a more suitable placement and we could not bear to subject him to any more negativity, as this was trapping him into a downward spiral.

We are "non-elective home educators", as we believe that home education does not give our son enough chance to network with other young people. Most of the groups which we have attended are mainly for much younger children. We have written many times to Harrow Council to ask for funding for a day-specialist placement, or at least some funding for group tuition for our able, but socially immature son. But over the past six months our letters have been ignored. We are tired of fighting, weary of explaining to complete strangers in the street who do not care about children on the autistic spectrum.

As you rightly say in your article about truancy, parents must pull their weight. But please do not make assumptions about children's school status, until you know the facts. Some parents are doing more than their share of work, under difficult circumstances.

If the school system acknowledged that not all autistic spectrum disorder pupils can cope in mainstream schools without major problems, and set up more halfway-house situations, some of the children who are troublesome in school because their needs are not being met, would calm down - and maybe there would be less truancy and disaffection too.

Margarita Craik-Horan 4 The Drive Harrow

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