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Aeolienne

Autistic 7-year-old advised to stay off school for sports day to avoid "causing a scene"

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(Not written by me)

Autistic 7-year-old advised to stay off school for sports day to avoid "causing a scene"

The school apologised and said the staff member's suggestion was "inappropriate"

A furious dad says he was asked to keep his autistic son off school for sports day - to avoid him ‘causing a scene’.

Mark Birchall, 28, said a classroom support worker approached him in the playground and said it might be wise to exclude his son Jacob, who has Asperger syndrome.

He claims the seven-year-old “cried his eyes out” after he broke the news about missing the event at Banks Road Primary School in Garston .

The headteacher apologised over the “inappropriate suggestion” and said it was not the view of the school, which tries to ensure all children can take part in such activities.

Mr Birchall, from Speke, claimed the staff member told him earlier this month that Jacob would be extremely upset if he lost, and could “cause a scene” at the sports day on July 18.

He acknowledged his son, a Year 2 pupil, might have struggled because of his Asperger syndrome, but said it was completely wrong to suggest excluding him.

He said: “I feel they were embarrassed by him, rather than just thinking about his needs.

“It was disgusting to single him out. It is excluding him, which is exactly what you are supposed not to do with children with special needs.

“It should be about inclusion - even if he didn’t take part, he could have handed out medals or been a referee.

“It feels like it was about keeping him away, about showing there were no issues at the school.”

He said he had to organise his own sports day and even buy a medal for his son at home instead, as he did not feel they would be welcome attending.

He said: “Jacob cried his eyes out when we told Jacob he wasn’t able to go.

“He had been practising trial runs at school, and said he wanted to be as fast as his hero, the car Lightning McQueen.

“It’s hard to accept sudden changes like that when you have autism. So I had to take the day off work to do my own sports day with him.”

He said he had disagreed previously with the school over provision for Jacob, who is likely to move to another school next year.

He added: “Because autism isn’t a physical, visible disability, I feel people with autism aren’t accepted the same way.”

He said he had been encouraged by the response from other parents after he shared his experiences on Facebook, with many shocked by what had happened.

Headteacher Linda Gibson said: “This was an entirely inappropriate suggestion made almost two weeks ago that neither myself nor the class teacher were made aware of until after the event.

“We have a clear policy that all of our children take part in sports day and I have taken steps to make sure this can’t happen again.

“I am really sorry for the upset this has caused and I am meeting personally with the family together with our Chair of Governors to discuss their concerns.”

Liverpool is trying to become one of Britain’s first autism-friendly cities, with many city institutions and businesses taking measures to properly support people with the condition.

Source: Liverpool Echo

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