A MUM says fighting for her autistic son's education through the current system is a 'never ending battle.'

Laura Cherry says places at special schools being so hard to attain and mainstream schools lack of understanding of special needs makes life for parents 'frustrating, and exhausting' with 'sleepless nights.'

Mrs Cherry's 12 year old son is named Brooke. She said: "We have been going through the process since he was 2. He has always been in mainstream schooling but they just don't have the support. He's always been perceived as the naughty boy as they seem to see him as just a normal back chatting pre-teen rather than an anxious, autistic child."

Mrs Cherry has praised the help offered by charities SENDIASS, IPSEA and National Autistic Society. She said: "Without them parents would not be able to get through the system. They are brilliant."

Mrs Cherry said the stress has also taken its toll on Brooke's mental health with the Covid 19 pandemic affected him too. At one point he was looking at the death rates on the school computers, and washing his hands relentlessly in very hot water.

Mrs Cherry said: "I want him to have aspirations, to enjoy school and come out of it with something. But you just get voicemails. A while ago he started saying he hated himself, he didn't feel pain, and he hated school. It's devastating to be in that situation."

When Brooke was struggling with this Mrs Cherry said everyone she rang for help went to answer machine.

"He is a very good masker, he is not the sort of child to come out and talk to you about his feelings. I think they also need to have more support with the emotional side of children."

"With mainstream schools possibly now going into wearing masks whilst at school full time, these autistic children will struggle with picking up body language, facial expressions and with communication, which is going to be another issue for SEN (special educations needs) children

The Hampton mum said she is constantly having to send emails and make phone calls. She has a huge file of paperwork and often feels like Brooke's PA as well as his mum. She has had to give up working because of the amount of work involved and has had a mental breakdown because of the stress.

Brooke will be starting at a special needs school but not until next September. Mrs Cherry said the process of getting places is lengthy and she's worried that he will struggle in mainstream schooling in the mean time.

Mrs Cherry has taken courses on SEN children because she believes "knowledge is power" for SEN parents, and she plans to volunteer with Action for Children to help other families going through what she has been through.