Wednesday 20 November 2019

Autistic boy's father threatens legal action

THE father of an autistic boy who self-harms is threatening legal action to have his son's classroom support restored.

Garbhan Hutchinson (14), who is non-verbal, doubly incontinent and requires 24- hour-care, had to be hospitalised recently after banging his head against a classroom wall.

In another incident, a Special Needs' Assistant (SNA) at St Cecilia's School in Sligo, where he is a pupil, was treated in casualty following a violent outburst by the teenager.

Despite these incidents, the school was informed in a letter last week that Garbhan's SNA support had been reduced by 16 hours, to be shared with other children.

The reason cited was "reduction in care needs".

The National Council for Special Education is currently allocating SNAs for the coming school year but, with a recruitment cap, parents fear hours may be reduced in some cases.

Garbhan's father, Chris Hutchinson from Bundoran, Co Donegal, has told Education Minister Ruairi Quinn that he will go to the courts to get equality for his son. "As a direct result of the decision that has been taken, I believe the department is now in breach of my son's educational rights under Article 42 of the Constitution, and he is being placed in danger," he said.

Mr Hutchinson said his son, who is on psychiatric drugs to control his mood swings, was extremely strong and required at least one SNA, preferably male, with him at all times while at school.

"He has to wear a boxing helmet to protect his head due to his extreme self-injurious behaviour, which is getting worse," he said.

Irish Independent

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