Mr and Mrs Black live about 7 miles from Strabane. They have three children, two already attending the local 3 teacher school. Their youngest child Ben has autism. They had been hoping he could attend the same school as his siblings but they have said they don’t feel they can cope, so reluctantly Mr and Mrs Black looked around for another mainstream school. Because of his severe problems it proved difficult to find such a place.
Eventually a larger school with an impressive record of teaching children with special needs, agreed to take Ben on a trial basis although they did suggest he be placed in their special unit rather than in an ordinary class. In P1 he was first allocated 15 hours a week support from a classroom assistant but despite this he still had tantrums where he screeched at the top of his voice, lay under the tables and wandered the room constantly. His support was increased to 25 hours. Despite this he was never able to stay in school beyond mid-day. The year had been very difficult for the class teacher – she had had to restructure her whole class, sometimes having the classroom assistant leading the rest of the class while she attempted to teach Ben. Despite regular entreaties to the parents they insisted he could cope with mainstream education, until eventually the principal was forced to tell them Ben would be suspended unless they agreed to placing him in the special unit attached to the school. This they reluctantly agreed to do.