Melanie Sykes has revealed the struggle she faced trying to find a school suitable her autistic son.
The TV star and model appeared on Loose Women and opened up about her 10-month-long fight to find a new school after her son was asked to leave the academy near the family’s home, as his teachers thought he would be better suited at another institution.
Because his autism is classed as high functioning, Melanie’s son Valentino, 12, can still be in mainstream education, but requires certain surroundings to get the best out of his education, which not all schools are able to provide.
Mel also discussed the difficulty in wanting to find a place able to ‘push him a little bit’, but also cater for his needs.
She told the panel: ‘I explored all avenues and we went to schools with autistic children and they were fantastic but because he is high-function I wanted him to be with children that he can learn something from. I think you need to push them a little bit.’
She added that she wants to help her son develop as his gets older, saying: ‘I have done from the get go with Tino, he wasn’t talking at first and now I can’t stop him from talking and that’s been by gentle pushing at the right times and the right places.’
After a long and difficult search, Mel revealed she has finally been successful in finding a school. However, she said she feels ‘there aren’t many schools with provision for children straddling both worlds’.
While appearing on the show, Mel received a lot of support on social media, with many parents sharing their similar struggles.
One Twitter user said: ‘Great job Mel highlighting the need for more support in mainstream schools for ASD children’.
Another added: ‘Thanks for highlighting the struggle with the education system, it’s been a nightmare for my autistic son’.
Mel commented on the number of parents she’s met who have the same problem finding school for their autistic children, saying: ‘It feels like I’m in a club and I feel like a mouthpiece for it.’