‘Black hole’ for disabled
Parents of children with special needs say their kids are facing a ‘‘big black hole’’ in making the transition from high school to employment or further education.
Some are choosing to keep their children at school until they are 21, and are frustrated by a lack of communication between services designed to cater for their children, and schools.
Advocates say secondary schools are not doing enough planning to help students with disabilities or special needs prepare for the outside world.
Mark Shanks has worked with families as a project manager for Life Unlimited, a charitable trust which provides support to people with disabilities. He says there is not enough long-term planning at schools for students with special needs.
‘‘I think it sits with secondary schools. Once they [students] start ... they should have a plan beginning then for when that student’s going to leave.’’
Elaine Gousmett’s 16-year-old daughter, Chardonnay Kyle, finished school last year. She has spina bifida, ADD, dyspraxia and a mild intellectual impairment.
When the Upper Hutt mother asked what options her daughter had after school, she was told there was nothing. ‘‘There is just a big black hole.’’ Another Upper Hutt parent, who would only be identified as Jo, said she faced an uphill battle finding a place for 22-year-old Amanda after she finished school last year.
Amanda has Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
The pair had meetings with staff from the Ministry of Education and the school, but people ‘‘did not have a lot of answers’’.
However, Secondary Principals’ Association president Sandy Pasley said that when special needs were identified, schools had individual education plans for those students, and met with parents regularly to look to the future.
Katrina Casey, deputy sec- retary Sector Enablement and Support at the Ministry of Education, said every school had systems in place to help young people make the transition.