Wigan mum’s appeal for schools to understand autism better

A Wigan woman whose son is autistic is calling on schools to teach pupils and staff that not all children experience the classroom in the same way.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 11:04 am
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2021, 12:10 pm

Laura Grundy from Orrell wants more people to be aware of the difficulties neuro-divergent children face at school and how they can be better supported.

Mrs Grundy said: “The number of children that are needing additional support in mainstream schools is massively increasing year on year, yet we have got fewer and fewer resources to support these children.

Teachers need to have an understanding of a child’s needs and how saying words or phrases in a different way can have such a huge impact, that could take weeks for them to get over which effectively causes a domino effect on family life at home.

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Laura Grundy from Orrell with son Owen, seven, who has autism. Laura wants people to understand the neuro-divergent condition.

“You wouldn’t dream of telling a child who was in a wheelchair to come to school for a few weeks without your wheelchair and see how you get on.

“Yet all these neurodivergent children are unable to learn the neurotypical way are expected to go into school and we’ll see how you get on.

“My little boy is extremely bright, his brain just won’t allow him to learn in that way, and if his needs aren’t being met then he is unable to attend school. The disability isn’t going to go away, just because it is invisible doesn’t mean it can be treated any different to a physical disability.”

Laura’s son Owen, seven, was diagnosed with autism and recently attended a two-day workshop at the Caudwell International Children’s Centre in Stafford.

Family came across the centre on Facebook after conducting extensive research.

Before going to the CICC, Owen was facing three years on a waiting list: “I was very lucky to be able to go down the private route, thanks to the support of my parents in order to receive answers for my son.

“I identified issues with my son at 18 months old and he has recently turned seven, if I hadn’t have gone down a different path I would still be waiting now.

“So many families go through trauma and have to fight to be able to get the help they need, but once they eventually get answers, there’s no further support for them.”

Thankfully, since making her son’s school more aware of his autism, her family have received increased support with Owen’s education.

“They have made a lot of adjustments and implemented various strategies that can ease Owen’s participation during his school day.

“Unfortunately, I am in a minority and lots of people feel their schools are against them and are often gaslighting parents.”

“There are thousands of families who struggle to put the resources in place, through no fault of the school, they just haven’t been given the support to help these children.”

Laura wants teachers and staff to obtain more training and feels it is now crucial for the government to act so neurodivergent children can get the education they deserve.

“There was a time at school where my son had left his jumper inside, I asked him to go back in and get it but he said ‘no thank you’ because in his mind I was sending him back to somewhere he was unhappy.

“I couldn’t go in with him to get it because of Covid, so I asked the office lady if she could get it for him.

“She was lovely but said she was busy and told my son to go in and get it and from that it caused a week of problems. To him he thought she was making him go back in to class.

“He was refusing to go back into school and it was a nightmare. This lady genuinely did nothing wrong, but it highlighted the importance on how the language has to change for these children and how better understanding can help make things so much easier.”

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