Bethan Evans, Reporter
Sunday, April 15, 2012
THE mother of a boy who was ‘punished for his disability’ wants to set up a charitable trust to help parents whose children deal with autism spectrum disorders.
Sharon Hope, aged 43, has been desperate to get a firm diagnosis for her eight-year-old son Marcus Blyth since 2004, after being told by doctors he has complex learning issues, including dyspraxia and Asperger’s syndrome.
After feeling Marcus’ mainstream school, Mendip Green First School, was not the right learning environment for him, Sharon decided in January to home-school her son.
She made the decision after going through the local education system and trying to get more support for Marcus’ education, only to be told there is no funding available for her son.
She said: “We have been applying and waiting for four years and Marcus is three years behind.
“As a parent you’re desperately at the end of your tether and there is no recognition for these learning difficulties, and so he has been punished for his disability.”
Even though she is disappointed, Sharon was able to get an assessment from national charity bibic and endeavours to get Marcus into a school which can support his learning needs by September.
At the moment Marcus is being taught at home in Milton by a private tutor, Debbie Quinn, six hours a week, who also plans to lend her expertise through the charitable trust to help give more information to parents.
Sharon said: “The sessions have made such a difference. He has worked so hard in the last couple of months.
“Marcus has the potential of a nine-and-a-half to 10-year-old but he does not have the tools to reach his goals.
“It’s all about changing people’s attitudes. We will not get anywhere if teachers turn around and say it’s just the child or bad parenting.
“If you have the understanding I do not think half the children would be in this mess.”
Sharon said while going through Marcus’ assessment it was very difficult to slot his diagnosis into a certain box, because he has such complex learning issues, which is where the name for the hopeful charity came from - My Child Does Not Fit In A Box.
The mother and tutor are now urging parents and carers with children who have been diagnosed with, or think they may have, autism, dyspraxia or Asperger’s or any other learning difficulty to come forward and share their experiences.
Ms Quinn, who is also an ex-headteacher, said: “There are so many children who have a medical condition which has caused a problem for them to stay in a mainstream school.
“Our aim is to set up a centre because we do not know how many children have been pulled out of school by parents with very little input. We want to form this charity so we can help people from all walks of life.”
To get in contact email Sharon at email@example.com or Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org