Mother battles to find school place for autistic son (7)

by Dublin Gazette
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A mum-of-three has been forced to homeschool her seven-year-old autistic son as she has been unable to secure a place in a special school for the new school year.

Nadine Staunton, from North King Street, is mother to Maddix, who was diagnosed with autism last October.

Maddix attended a mainstream school in Dublin 7 until the end of the last term, when she was forced to remove her son from school as she said he wasn’t receiving the level of support he needed.

Speaking to Dublin Gazette, Nadine said that because of the severity of Maddix’s condition, he needs specialised care, but believes that the school did not take this seriously.

“I had to take him out two weeks before the summer holidays. He wasn’t allowed into the classroom for long – he’d be allowed in for an hour if he could even last the hour.

“If we go outside the house, sometimes I only last less than an hour with him because he [soils himself] and things like that, but I’m used to dealing with him because we have a routine.

“There was one Special Needs Assistant for the whole school. Maddix is like a baby and needs constant looking after.

“I had loads of times where I was called down to the school any time he had an accident because there was only one SNA for four or five kids, or where the principal rang me saying ‘Nadine you might have to keep Maddix home because the SNA isn’t in’,” she explained.

Still no help

Nadine said that ever since Maddix was a baby they suspected he may have had autism, and were forced to take Maddix to be diagnosed privately last year, as suggested by Maddix’s former principal, to try and get him the help he needed.

“I had a meeting with the board of the school and I told the school we needed help for my child.

“The old principal of the school, before she left, said that I should take Maddix private or I’d be still looking for help [from the HSE], so that’s what I did.

“The doctor said for me to bring Maddix to [Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services], that he needed intervention and a support around him.

“To this day, we have got nothing from the time my child was diagnosed last October. We’ve had three social workers who’ve done nothing for him, he needs a needs assessment from the HSE and I tried to get that and I can’t [get it],” Nadine said.

“My child has been in a mainstream school since he was four, but he doesn’t even know how to write his own name because he isn’t getting the support he needs.”

Now, struggling to find a place in a special school for Maddix, Nadine turned to looking for home tuition, but was told that she would be put on a waiting list for a private home tuition teacher.

She was also told that she could be waiting until 2020 for a school place to become free for Maddix.

Homeschooling

Nadine has now been forced to teach herself the curriculum so she can educate Maddix at home. Her other two children, Jackson and Jefferson, will return to school this week, and she says Maddix is asking when he will get to go back to his old school.

This Friday, Nadine and other parents in the same situation will stage a peaceful protest outside the Department of Education on Marlborough Street at 3pm, in an effort to highlight the struggle their children are facing in achieving an education.

“I’m here for Maddix, he needs his school. In the first Dáil they said no child should be left without an education, no child should be left homeless, no child should be left without food, and each and every one of these things is after happening to kids in our country in 2019.

“I’m screaming out for help since before the Summer holidays, but the government, the TD’s don’t want to help. I’ll be sending out letters to each TD, each party, telling them what’s going on.

“I’m being strong, all I can do is be strong and keep going for Maddix, but this is what us mammies have to do in 2019. If my son got all the help and support he needed, if he got in to the school he needs, he would be a new child. He should’ve had this long ago, the HSE just keep telling me I’m on a waiting list.

“I’m 29 years of age, I’m learning as I’m going, and I’ve had to give up my job to teach my son. I never thought my life would be like this, it shouldn’t be like this. It’s like a big dream.

“Maddix has his schoolbag, his runners and his colours, and all he needs is a school and a uniform.”

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