“With the best will in the world there’s no way you can put every
child into mainstream. I’m sure some children fit in with the right
support but not all,” says Dawn Hill.
Her 10-year-old son Michael, who has Asperger’s syndrome, attends
the Helen Allison school, a special school for children on the
autistic spectrum run by the National Autistic Society.
“The mainstream school said he couldn’t go into reception class as
it would be too much for the school to cope with, that he wouldn’t
learn anything and the others in the class wouldn’t learn
Michael had difficulty understanding authority, would throw things
around and attacked other children. Even though he is now 10 he has
the emotional level of a two-year old and still has tantrums.
“We couldn’t see how he would sit down in a classroom let alone
learn,” says Dawn, who felt that the special school, with its high
staff to children ratios, was the only suitable option – in his
class there are four adults and eight children.
Michael has 12 and a half hours of one-to-one support a week, some
of which is spent in maths and science lessons at the mainstream
school next door.
Dawn believes that special school is the right option for Michael.
“I can’t imagine him anywhere else as he can’t cope with the
stress. Anything that stresses him out causes challenging
behaviour. He needs the security of the special school. He could
not cope full time in mainstream under any circumstances.”