Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Expert slams government over therapy cuts

Autism expert Darren Jackson has hit out at the government’s decision to withdraw speech and language therapy for a 6 year-old boy.

The case of Dylan Scothern, who has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), caused controversy at Prime Minister’s Questions on February 2, after it was revealed his therapy had been removed because he was ‘too old’. This has led Jackson, principal at specialist autism college Beechwood, to call on the government to radically reform special educational needs (SEN) provision in its upcoming SEN and disability green paper.

He said: “The reality is that ASD is a complex and lifelong developmental condition that manifests itself in varying degrees of severity. It is vital that care provision is based on need not age. Young people with an ASD depend on lifelong care and education way beyond 16 years of age into further education – to cut this off at six years old is a terrible decision, especially as those with an ASD mature more slowly. It also is completely contradictory to Government calls for early intervention.”

Jackson has also criticised the current SEN procedures for its ‘catch-all’ approach, and urged the government to look at this in their forthcoming green paper. “Due to the highly individual nature of ASD, there is no generic approach to treatment but with the right education programme students are able to improve their future prospects and quality of life phenomenally.”

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