I’ve seen in the media this week (link to Carrie Grant) that there have been discussions in South West London to no longer accept referrals for assessment and diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Even typing that sentence feels wrong.
I cannot get my head around this. The only children who could be referred are those with an additional mental health condition the likes of ADHD or depression.
Reilly is autistic. He isn’t ADHD, he isn’t depressed. Where would that leave us. No referral, no diagnosis, no help, no support, no special school place.
It has to be financial, I cannot think of any other reason but I can assure you that the knock on affect for these families will have severe repercussions. We all know that early intervention is crucial. You need to open doors quickly and access whatever help is available. Reilly simply couldn’t be shoe horned into a mainstream school, I knew that before he attended his afternoon visit to nursery that they couldn’t handle him and I was right.
Reilly didn’t want to sit nice on the carpet with his milk in a carton that he couldn’t bare to touch and listen to stories. He wanted to be in playing with trains but thats only allowed if you have a band on and theres only three bands allowed at any time in each area, he didn’t get it. He didn’t fit and I wasn’t going to make him. And oh lord he’s still in nappies!!
We were lucky enough to have a Sure-Start nursery a bus ride away where the staff were amazing and helped me so much. They were an emotional crutch to me at times. Times when I couldn’t leave him, times when it took me 2 hours to get him there instead of 20 minutes. Times when Id had 2 hours sleep and happy times when he ate the garlic bread.
Guess what happened to that Sure-Start Nursery? It was closed.
This coincided with Reilly needing to start big school. No diagnosis, no special school and an entitlement to 5 hours per week support. I say again 5 hours per week.
With Reilly’s diagnosis he went to panel for them to decide where and how Reilly should be educated. There were zero spaces available anywhere with any type of specialist provision available. He would have to go into mainstream school to “prove a point” that he couldn’t remain there. Imagine using your child to prove a point to get them the right education they are legally entitled to. The poor teacher who chased Reilly for one week around the school between 1.30 and 3.15 must have been near a breakdown at the end of it. We proved a point and then threatened action with the council. Tadaaaa we were offered a place at an excellent school for Reilly, not the right school according to all of our professionals but better for him than mainstream at this point. Reilly spent a year there and came on leaps and bounds he was then moved to his current school. It’s exceptional. It’s right for him and us.
Would he be here without a diagnosis? Absolutely not. Would I have had that breakdown that I teatered on the edge of so often – I can guarantee it.
So is it about money? Is this the start of privatisation? There can’t be any other reason. How many people can afford to go private for a diagnosis? It’s absolutely terrifying. Will it roll out further?
Our lives are hard enough, we need support just to lead semi normal lives.
Mental health services are being cut left, right and centre. Mental health problems on the rise and I can assure you it will get worse if these plans go ahead.