Essex, UK – Jo Jones is a mum to 5 children ranging from 18 to 7, her second youngest child, Dan aged 10 has Asperger’s Syndrome. In November 2013 Jo started her campaign, ‘Voice 4 Aspergers’ in which she is striving to make mainstream education accessible to all children with ASD. The reasons for starting the campaign and an online petition stem from years of receiving no help and of being unable to accept support for Dan.
Jo states on her website
‘It was started after I became very aware that I was far from alone in struggling to gain access to any support for my son who was diagnosed with Aspergers at the age of 7. Accessing support at school for us, like many others around the country, seems impossible. Aside from the odd social skills groups, which seemed to have very little effect, there simply wasn’t and isn’t any support unless an SEN Statement can be accessed. This however, seems impossible, because unless your child has learning difficulties, which is not usually the case with Aspergers, the education department don’t like to issue them.’
Autism Daily Newscast had the pleasure of chatting with Jo and finding out more about the campaign and life with Dan.
Jo told us that Dan was diagnosed with Aspergers at age 7 but that it took a long time to diagnose him. She had also known from a young age that Dan was different.
Jo told us that when Dan was 2 there was an incident when she was in a supermarket. He pointed to a juice bottle, that she had never bought before and said, ‘Summer Fruits’. She told us that it is only now looking back that she realises he must have been able to read what it said.
Jo told us that Dan is very aware that he is different and that when Dan was 7 he told her that:
“Nobody likes me, nobody understands me”.
Dan received no help in his first school while he was in Reception Class. Even though Jo repeatedly voiced her concerns over how her son was struggling to cope these were not listened to.
Fortunately when Dan started at a new school the following year things changed. Jo told of how in the first couple of weeks the school picked up that Dan was on the Autistic Spectrum and quickly started to make referrals for a Statement of Educational Needs. However even though this process was started, Dan has been unsuccessful in gaining one.
Jo told us:
“We were told by the educational psychologist that Dan does not need a statement even though she had never seen him”
Jo then told us that this is a child who struggles with school every day and who can have meltdowns while there. Luckily for bath Jo and Dan, he is in a good school where they have the knowledge and resources to help him and have done so from their ‘own pocket’ without having the statement in place.
To continue reading this story, click here for part 2.