Local Authority won't allow autistic child to be legally represented!

by L Kumar

Local Authority won't allow autistic child to be legally represented!

by L Kumar
L Kumar
Case Owner
I am a mother trying to ensure that my son is provided with everything that he requires in order to thrive - this means I have to make sure that his Education Health and Care Plan is amended.
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L Kumar
Case Owner
I am a mother trying to ensure that my son is provided with everything that he requires in order to thrive - this means I have to make sure that his Education Health and Care Plan is amended.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

My Son’s Story

My son is ten years old. My heart breaks when he tells me that he wants to be able to perform like the other children in his class. He often tells me that he “feels stupid” because he is unable to cope within his current environment and he does not know why. He desperately tries to avoid upsetting other members of his class, but he is overwhelmed when he is placed in a loud environment. He holds in his frustration throughout the school day, only feeling as though he can vent and express himself when he is at home. His frustration is through no fault of his own, and that is what I always try and emphasise to him. 

In November 2013, he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He has delayed speech, learning, attention and play skills. He also has difficulties with his motor skills. I have done everything I can to ensure that my son has obtained all the professional evidence that he requires in order to prove to the local authority that he needs help. 

What am I trying to achieve?

My local council has issued an Education Health and Care Plan in an attempt to cater for my son’s needs. Their plan does not adequately appreciate the needs of my son, a child who is about to progress into secondary education and to date has not had his needs acknowledged or addressed. 

To ensure that my son is provided with everything that he requires in order to thrive, I have to make sure that his Education Health and Care Plan is amended. The thought of having to go through an appeal before a specialist tribunal, simply in order to ensure that my son is not at a disadvantage because of his disabilities, is overwhelming. I cannot emphasise how strenuous and expensive this process has been to date, but I know how important it is for my son and that is what keeps me going.

In order to avoid such an appeal, I am amicably seeking to mediate with the council, the local authority responsible for my son’s provision. I just want to be given the opportunity to sit at a table with the people who have the power to change my son’s life, and explain what my son requires with the benefit of a lawyer. That is what the law states that I, and my son, are entitled to. 

The Local Authority’s Response

The local authority has refused to engage in mediation if I seek to be legally represented. The mediation service has stated that it will not facilitate mediation if I do not agree with the position of the local authority.

Section 52 and Section 54 of the Children and Families Act 2014 provide that not only should mediation be facilitated by the local authority, but any advocate is permitted to attend. 

I cannot help but ask myself, how many other children and families does this impact? How many other children and families have been told that they cannot have legal representation when engaging with the local authority as to issues of the utmost importance, concerning the needs of disabled children?

Why am I taking legal action?

I have no option other than to challenge the position of the local authority and the mediation service by way of judicial review. My son needs legal representation at mediation to ensure that he is provided with everything that he requires to be able to thrive in an educational environment. It can shape the trajectory of his entire academic, social and professional life. 

What's at stake?

This case is not just about my son. It is about ensuring that this does not happen to any other children in a similar position. It is about ensuring that the local authority is held to account for not acting in accordance with the law. 

As part of my case, I seek to ensure that the council undertakes a review of its policies and procedures, identifying all of those who have gone before me and were wronged as a result of their unlawful course of action. Those families have no doubt been adversely impacted by the position of the local authority. They do not only deserve an apology, but the children in question will require immediate remedial action, so that they too are given every opportunity to realise their full potential. 

Why am I raising funds?

This type of case is notoriously expensive. Any contribution that you can make, no matter how small, will go some way towards ensuring that my son is not treated unlawfully, and is afforded the benefit of legal representation when mediating with the local authority, in order to ensure that his needs are met.

The initial target is set to enable me to proceed with the initial steps required to get the case off the ground, with further funding possibly being necessary as the case develops.

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