Twins face college place despair

THE mother of autistic twins has spoken of her desperation to secure them places at a special needs college and criticised a county council for not making a decision about their future.

Annie Davidson

THE mother of autistic twins has spoken of her desperation to secure them places at a special needs college and criticised a county council for not making a decision about their future.

Sharron Spain said her 19-year-olds, Joseph and Jamie, finished at their residential school in Kent last week and the family do not currently know where their adult placements will be from September.

Ms Spain and her sons found a college they liked, AALPS (Adolescent to Adult Life Preparation Service) in Worcestershire, and requested placements for the twins from September.


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Despite looking at other options suggested by Essex County Council, Ms Spain said her first choice was AALPS which offered a different package of care and she felt would help her sons achieve their best.

But Ms Spain claimed Essex County Council was dragging its heels over whether to fund the placement which was causing her sons a lot of anxiety.

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She said the nature of their condition meant they needed to know what they were doing in the future and their behaviour was deteriorating due to the anxiety.

Mrs Spain, of Page Road, Clacton, said: “They are both very large lads who can both exhibit challenging behaviour and I believe that the lack of decision from social services is putting myself and members of the community at risk.

“Jamie cannot understand why I won't put a date on his calendar as to when he is starting college and is losing trust in me; probably the one person who he believes will not let him down.

“When an able student leaves school, he makes his decision about which university he would like to go to, or if university is not for him - he makes a choice about his future career.

“Joseph and Jamie have made a choice in wanting to go to AALPs and I cannot understand why they should not have the same right of choice as an able student has.”

The twins are currently being looked after by carers five hours per day which will cost social services �9,000 during August.

Mrs Spain said that bill would increase in September if they did not have placements because her other sons Benjamin, 22, and Michael, 20, would go back to university and not be around to help out.

A spokeswoman for Essex County Council said: “Essex County Council currently supports the family by providing a direct payment each month to meet the boys assessed care needs at home.

“We recognise that the twins are now about to leave school and are currently undertaking a review with the aim of finding them both the most suitable adult placement.

“We are actively engaging with the family and have presented them with a number of possible options.

“We pride ourselves on working with families to give the best possible care to children and we will be making a decision shortly in partnership with the family on the future care of Joe and Jamie.”

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