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'Stuck in the middle' - Boy with autism 'not suitable' for mainstream or special schools

PUBLISHED: 10:11 27 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:11 27 May 2019

Alex Kentfield may have to be home schooled by his mum if a place isn't found for him by September   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Alex Kentfield may have to be home schooled by his mum if a place isn't found for him by September Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

An autistic boy desperate to go to school in September has been left in limbo because his condition is deemed either 'too severe' or 'not severe enough' to qualify for a place.

Daniella and Gareth Kentfield with their son Alex   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDaniella and Gareth Kentfield with their son Alex Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Alex Kentfield is a very happy little boy, but he also has autism - which means his ability to communicate lags roughly 18 months behind his peers.

The three-year-old, from Great Blakenham, has been issued with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) by Suffolk County Council, and currently attends The Bridge School assessment nursery in Ipswich.

His mum, Daniella Kentfield, had expected him to continue at The Bridge - moving into the reception class in September.

However she says the council has since told her that Alex is too advanced to qualify for a place, and recommend the pair look at mainstream schools with specialist units.

Daniella and Gareth Kentfield with their son Alex   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDaniella and Gareth Kentfield with their son Alex Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

With just a couple of months to go until the summer holidays, Mrs Kentfield started applying for places at nearby schools that fit this description.

But, to her dismay, she claims she was told that Alex's condition was too severe to suit mainstream education, and he would have to seek a place at a special school.

Mrs Kentfield has been chasing the council for help since she was landed in the situation back in April, but says no one is getting back to her.

She says she now feels "stuck in the middle with nowhere to go", with time running out for Alex to secure a place before September rolls around.

Daniella and Alex playing in the garden  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDaniella and Alex playing in the garden Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"His speech has come along quite well, so due to that The Bridge School decided that he's too advanced to stay there," Mrs Kentfield explained.

"So now we've tried to apply to schools with special units, but they're all saying he's too severe to attend.

"We're kind of in the middle. It doesn't seem like it's going to go anywhere in September - he's probably going to end up being home schooled by me.

"It makes me feel a bit nervous because I don't think he listens to me so he needs to be in a school.

Alex Kentfield playing in the garden   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAlex Kentfield playing in the garden Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"You can only really get advice from charities, that's it. You have to do it all by yourself.

"When you try to call for updates from the council there's never anyone there to talk to. No one ever calls back.

"It's really frustrating - I'm trying to do the right thing for him and I can't do anything."

Mrs Kentfield said Alex is a "very happy boy", who loves trains and cars, and has a special relationship with his dog Teddy.

Alex Kentfield playing in the garden   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAlex Kentfield playing in the garden Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"Most of the day, to be honest, he's playing with trains and cars," she said.

"He likes to dance as well - sometimes we have a little dance around the living room."

When asked for a response, the council said it does not comment on individual cases.

Gareth and his son Alex Kentfield   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGareth and his son Alex Kentfield Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Alex Kentfield playing in the garden   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAlex Kentfield playing in the garden Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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