By Anne Dachel, CHD Contributing Writer, Age of Autism Editor, LossofBrainTrust.com

I have to start my monthly update with a stunning story from Connecticut.  On August 2nd the Journal Record gave parents in that state fair warning: There’s nothing for your autistic child when he or she ages out of school.

So what’s ahead for countless special needs young adults?

Waiting lists, lack of funding, no service providers.

There, you’ve been warned.

Meriden (CT) Journal Record: ‘The system is going to explode’ — Adults with autism struggle to find support in Connecticut

…The legal mandate, however, ends after graduation, and individuals with autism are no longer entitled to support, creating what’s widely referred to by families and activists as “the services cliff.”…

As autism prevalence rates continue to climb nationally and more students with autism age out of the school system every year, autism advocates and families in Connecticut are becoming increasingly concerned that the state’s adult service systems are largely unprepared to meet the growing need. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated 500,000 individuals with autism would transition out of the education system and into adult service systems over the next 10 years.

“The system is going to explode,” said Leslie Macnab, executive director of Wallingford-based nonprofit Autism Services & Resources Connecticut.

“The autism prevalence rate is just going up and up and up, and even if it stays the same (at around 1 in 54 children currently), in 15 to 18 years, those kids are going to be phasing out of the school system.

… We already have waitlists, so how are they supposed to take on more capacity without political will, without money, and without resources. I just don’t know. It’s exploding, and it’s very scary.”…

The current waitlist doesn’t even truly represent the number of people in need, advocates argue. “I know so many families who say, ‘Well I’m not even bothering to apply for the waitlist, they’re never going to give me services,…

What is completely and inexplicably absent in this story is any explanation for why ‘the autism prevalence rate keeps going up and up and up.’

More and more young people with autism is the problem as we were told several times here. Why the numbers are only getting worse is anyone’s guess and reporter Matthew Zabierek doesn’t hazard a guess.

What Zabierek tells us about is the cost. This should have everyone’s attention.

It currently costs DSS an average of $26,061 to provide services to each of the 116 individuals receiving a waiver, according to Dearborn. At that rate, it would cost over $44 million annually to service all 1,691 people on the waitlist as of June 26. 

Of course this is only the beginning of the tidal wave of young autistic adults approaching every state shoreline in America, and anyone seriously looking at the figures quickly realizes there’s never going to be enough money to pay for this dependent population. That elephant remains in the room.

Meanwhile over in Britain and Ireland they’re in their own version of denial. County Councils continue to announce yet another whole school for special needs students, and over and over we’re told that their disabilities are “social, emotional, mental health problems and autism.”

Special ed is now behavioral ed.

Costs are jaw-dropping and there are always calls for more funding. Still there is the positive spin on everything when officials and educators describe things in glowing terms.

See for yourself.

Hemel Today (SE England): Hemel Hempstead school helps set up new free school in Hertfordshire

The Department for Education has announced that the James Marks Academy, which is being set up by a school in Hemel Hempstead, has been approved to open in Hertfordshire.

The new free school, which is being set up by Roman Fields – an outstanding provision that serves a similar cohort of pupils with complex needs – is due to open in Welwyn in September 2022.

The James Marks Academy will be made up of Roman Fields and James Marks Academy, and will serve pupils with high anxiety and mental health issues; those pupils for whom a traditional SEMH school would not be deemed appropriate….

Unity Howard, Director of New Schools Network, said: “I am delighted…..it is fantastic news for local families that that they will be able to access this provision….

Kent Online (SE England): First look at latest special Aspire School in Vellum Drive, near Sittingbourne 

Staff at a new £11.5 million [$15M U.S.] special free school are counting down the days until children walk through the doors. …

The school will welcome up to 32 pupils in September, growing to 160 children over five years.

Yorkshire Live (N England): Opening date announced for Selby free school catering to children with special needs

The development of a special free school for Selby’s most vulnerable has taken a major step forward.

The Department for Education has chosen the Wellspring Academy Trust as the sponsor to open and operate the state-funded school, which will cater for up to 100 pupils with special educational needs and disabilities aged three to 19.

Manchester Evening News (N/Central England): Stockport is to get a much-needed £17m ($22M U.S.) new school for youngsters with special needs and disabilities 

Stockport is to get a £17m new secondary school for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The much-needed school will be built on the vacant Orrishmere Primary School site, in Cheadle Hulme, and cater for up to 133 pupils….

Stockport does not currently have enough SEND places, meaning that each year many children are sent out-of-borough for their education.

Bosses are also projecting an eight pc increase in the number of children who will need an education, health and care plan (EHCP).

Grimsby Live (NE Coast of England): Work on ‘first class’ special needs sixth form school to begin next year 

Work on a recently-approved special needs school in Scunthorpe will begin in the summer of next year….

Up to 60 pupils will be able to attend the school, one of 37 new special needs schools that have been announced across the UK. The school will support pupils between 16 and 19, aiming to provide them with life skills ready for adulthood….

Mark Wilson, the trust’s CEO, said that there was growing demand for special needs places which the school would help to meet….

 “Special needs school places are in increasing demand …”

BBC: Autism in children: ‘Many families face council discrimination’

More than a quarter of English councils are acting unlawfully by discriminating against children with autism, according to a report by disability law experts.

Forty-one out of 149 local authorities have policies that denied families social care assessments, the Disability Law Service said….

Judith Blake, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Councils are under huge strain as a result of the rising demand for support – seeing an increase of 10% in education, health and care plans in the last 12 months alone.”…

The government said it was increasing high-needs funding for local authorities by £780m [$1B U.S.] this year and a further £730m [$952M U.S.] in 2021-22, boosting the total budget for supporting those with the most complex needs to more than £8bn [$10B U.S.] that year….

The National Autistic Society said: “Families of autistic children up and down the country are being failed by the councils that are supposed to help them.” 

Reading Chronicle (SE England): Woodley’s Addington School expansion almost complete 

CONSTRUCTION work on a £4.4 million [$5.7 U.S.] extension to a SEND in Woodley is now approaching completion. The new single-storey building extension to The Addington School, Woodlands Avenue, is now entering the final stages of fitting-out, increasing the school’s capacity by 50 additional students….

“Everyone at Addington School is excited to see the finishing touches being put to our new building….”

Teeside Live (NE England): ‘Forgotten children’ far more likely to be expelled or suspended from school 

The most vulnerable kids in Teesside continue to be targeted by school exclusions, two years on from a damning report on the “scandal” of these “forgotten children”.

In 2018, a report from the House of Commons’ Education Committee found that an increasing number of children were being unnecessarily excluded from school, and abandoned with an inadequate education.

BBC: (Northern Ireland) Special needs education: More than 30 children in NI without places

Thirty-three children with a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) are still without a September school place…. The EA has placed the majority of 285 children with SEN in a school – that’s the figure BBC News NI revealed was without a school place in June. …

In July, the chair of Stormont’s education committee, Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle, revealed that about 600 children in Northern Ireland were waiting longer than the statutory limit of six months for a statement of SEN….

That is the situation for another child with special educational needs who is also non-verbal In March, the EA apologised for numerous failings in providing support for children with special educational needs after a damning internal review….

 “In June of this year, 285 children with a statement of special educational needs were awaiting confirmation of a school place…”

THISS: Over 3,000 extra school places to give children with SEND access to specialist equipment 

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that up to 3,000 new school places are to be created for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), providing tailored support and specialist equipment.

Staffed by specially trained teachers, the 35 new special free schools are expected to be available from September 2022 onwards; they will give pupils with complex needs

StokeonTrent Live (Central England): Stoke-on-Trent boy, 12, has not been to school for 15 months – now his mum wants answers 

The family of an autistic boy who’s had no formal education since having a brain tumour removed 15 months ago say he’s been failed by the system….

Christian, who also has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Tourette’s syndrome, was suspended from Portland after an incident where he threw a chair at a teacher.

The family say the school told them it could no longer meet his needs….

 Somerset Live (SW England): Two specialist schools in Yeovil to expand as Somerset County Council approves plans

Two specialist schools in Yeovil will be able to expand after plans for new facilities were approved by Somerset County Council. Fairmead School on the A359 Mudford Road and Fiveways School on Victoria Road both provide education and support for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). With both schools operating at full capacity, plans to expand both sites were submitted to the county council, which is responsible for local education…

She said: “The demand for special educational needs places is significant and resources to meet this are very limited.”

Devon, Radio 107.3 (SW England): New school for Okehampton

Will cater for 100 pupils

A new school for 80-100 pupils aged 5 to 16 with special educational needs is set to be built in Okehampton….

The school will cater for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) conditions and will ensure local demand for places are met by the new provision.

…“There has locally been an increase in the number of children who have been issued with an Educational Care and Health Plan (EHCP) with Devon seeing an increase of 45 per cent between 2015 and 2019….

“Devon has total of 11 special schools, 16 specialist resource bases linked and located to mainstream schools across the County and one secure unit, with the eleven special schools currently have capacity to support approximately 1,400 children with SEND and currently commissions in excess of 700 places from the Independent Sector.

“Devon has seen a significant increase in need for Special Education provision in recent years due to a number of factors including demographic change, migration into the County and increasing more complex needs,…”

…the council has agreed to a £20m [$26M U.S.] programme to deliver up to 300 additional places across the County…

Oxford Mail (S/Central England): New £12m building for SEND school Orion Academy 

A NEW £12 million school for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is set to be built on the outskirts of Oxford. The school will have capacity for 108 pupils and provide a new home for the Orion Academy….

The Orion Academy is one of six SEND schools in Oxfordshire run by The Gallery Trust.

CheshireLive (NW England): Figures show vulnerable children in Cheshire more likely to be expelled or suspended from school

The most vulnerable kids in Cheshire continue to be targeted by school exclusions, two years on from a damning report on the “scandal” of these “forgotten children”.

 In 2018, a report from the House of Commons’ Education Committee found that an increasing number of children were being unnecessarily excluded from school, and abandoned with an inadequate education.

In particular, the report highlighted that children who were already the most vulnerable – such as children with special educational needs (SEN) and those living in poverty – were the most likely to be excluded. …

The government say they are increasing high needs funding for local authorities by £780 million [$1B U.S.]this year and a further £730 million [$943M U.S.] next year, to help schools support children and young people with the most complex SEN.

St. Helens Star (W/Central England): Special needs school plans at former Green Dragon pub site

A PLANNING application has been submitted to St Helens Council seeking permission for a development on the site of the bulldozed Green and Dragon pub….

“This scheme seeks to utilise this site as a new, purpose-built Special Educational Needs (SEN) School.

 “The proposed school would meet increasing local demand for SEN schools and would offer quality education for up to 30 students across six classrooms, associated communal spaces and outdoor amenity spaces.”…

Disability News Service: Round-up: Autistic children, looming jobs crisis, social care evidence… and Baywatch

At least 41 local authorities across England have unlawful policies that prevent autistic children from obtaining an assessment of their support needs, according to a new report. The report (PDF) by Disability Law Service, Leeds University’s School of Law, the disability charity Cerebra and the BBC, says the councils are discriminating against autistic children by refusing an assessment unless they have another impairment or a formal diagnosis of autism. …

A coalition of nine disability organisations has called on the government to take urgent action to avoid a “looming employment crisis” among disabled young people….

The survey of more than 6,000 people across the UK found that one in six (17 per cent) of the working-age population is facing redundancy [unemployment]….

Carers and parents (39 per cent) are also at sharply increased risk of redundancy, says Citizen’s Advice….

County Times (Wales): Replacement buildings for Newtown schools move a step closer 

REPLACEMENT buildings for two special schools in north Powys have taken a step closer after plans submitted by the county council were approved by the Welsh Government.

Powys County Council is planning to build new schools for Ysgol Cedewain and Brynllywarch Hall School and submitted Outline Business Cases to the Welsh Government for consideration. …

Government’s 21st Century Schools Capital Programme Panel and secures an investment worth over £31m [$40M U.S.] for both special schools.

The decision is subject to approval by the Education Minister.

 Lincolnshire Live (E Midlands): Major investigation reveals disturbing trend in Lincolnshire schools 

The most vulnerable kids in Lincolnshire continue to be ‘targeted’ by school exclusions – two years after a damning report on the “scandal” of these “forgotten children”.

In 2018, a report from the House of Commons’ Education Committee found an increasing number of children were being unnecessarily excluded and abandoned with an inadequate education.

The report highlighted that children who were already the most vulnerable – such as children with special educational needs (SEN) and those living in poverty – were the most likely to be excluded. …

Children with SEN are more than four times more likely to be expelled and three times more likely to be suspended than other children ….

The Government say they are increasing high needs funding for local authorities by £780 million this year and a further £730 million next year, to help schools support children and young people with the most complex SEN. …

…. In the 2018/19 academic year, 1,948 school children were excluded from Lincolnshire ‘s state funded secondary schools for a fixed period at least once – up from 1,883 the year before.

Lincolnshire Live (E/Central Coast of England): Vocational training centre in Lincolnshire to become independent school for special needs students  

A vocational training centre says it was left with no other choice but to convert into an independent school in order to help its students….

As part of this, the centre would take in between 36 and 40 pupils and attempt to teach them how to integrate back into mainstream education,…

Bristol Post (SE England): Parents’ fury as 190 children can’t return to special school in Bristol next week—The council have announced a £28.7m plan but it will take a year or more 

A total of 190 children with special needs across Bristol will not be returning to a specialist school next month – because the council has failed to provide enough SEND places for them. There are 13 children who have no place at all, while the other 177 will study in mainstream schools with specialist education, health and care plans (ECHP) drawn up to help them there.

The children, who number the equivalent of a secondary school’s entire year intake, have special educational needs, but the shortfall in places means they will either be staying in mainstream schools, at home or remain in pre-schools.

Furious parents have slammed the council, and described a council pledge that children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) would ‘be a priority’ as ‘a load of rubbish’.

Bristol City Council has announced a £28.7 million [$37M U.S.] plan to create more places for SEND children, which will include major redevelopments at two schools, as well as create additional special school places at a number of mainstream schools across the city….

Extensive delays in producing education, health and care (EHC) plans had resulted in a large backlog of assessments that, once cleared, would mean there were many more children entitled to a special school place than existed, she said.

Royal Borough Observer: New £1.2million plan to educate children with special needs in the Royal Borough 

An ambitious plan to attach ‘resource bases’ for children with special needs at four schools across the Royal Borough has been agreed by councillors.

At last night’s cabinet meeting members unanimously supported the £1.227million [$1.6M U.S.] plan to establish the bases at Dedworth Green First and Middle Schools in Windsor and at Furze Platt Primary School, Maidenhead by September 2021 – with the remaining two to be set up at Wraysbury Primary School and South Ascot Village Primary School by September 2022….

Winsford and Middlewich Guardian (NW England): Two new special schools set to open for Cheshire East youngsters 

MIDDLEWICH youngsters with social, emotional or mental health needs will soon be able to benefit from two new special schools.

The two schools will open in Crewe this September, following investment by Cheshire East Council to meet a growing demand in education for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the borough, including Middlewich.

Nic Brindle, chief executive of the Youth Engagement Schools Trust, said: “We are thrilled to open the Axis Academy to help support vulnerable children in the area and we are delighted to be able to start helping change children’s futures for the better….

“We are proud to be able to start helping change children’s futures for the better and we can’t wait to get started and share the successes of our first ever students as they successfully master their own education.”

The Axis Academy will focus on all areas of mental health support,…

Lucy Gibbs, co-executive headteacher of Lavender Fields, said: “We are extremely excited to be opening our doors.”

Darlington Northern Echo: Calls for more funding for special needs education 

CALLS have been made for more funding for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

 It is the second time this year Durham County Council has sent a letter to the Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson.

The authority’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, Councillor Olwyn Gunn, wrote to the minister in March to highlight ongoing funding pressures for children and young people with SEND and support for pupils at risk of exclusion.

In the financial year 2019/20, the council spent £8.6 million [$12M U.S.] more than it received from the Government in its ‘High Needs Block’ funding allocation to support SEND pupils.

Although £5.6 million [$7.5M] of the overspend was met from general reserves, the remaining £3 million was added to the council’s HNB accumulated deficit, causing it to rise from £2.7 million to £5.7 million by the end of March.

Council bosses say the shortfall comes at a time when more youngsters in County Durham need extra support, with the number of young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan jumping from 3,000 to more than 3,600 over the last two years.

 Belfast Telegraph (Ireland): Tanaiste says special needs provision will not be resolved by courts or lawyers

The Tanaiste has said parents going to court to ensure their children with special needs get proper provision, is not going to resolve the overall issue.

“Children are being left behind,” he told the Dail. Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty raised the issue of special needs assessment taking up to two years in some cases, despite it being set out in law that assessments should take place within six months….

Independent TD Denis Naughten highlighted the lack of school places for children with special needs this September. He said there is a “crisis” when it comes to providing school places for children with additional needs. “This has already spilled over into the public domain with the former minister of education Joe McHugh writing to 39 schools in south Dublin in June directing them to establish special classes for four and five-year-old children with autism, in order to accommodate children who have no school this September.”…

“Children have a right to an assessment within a six-month timeframe and that should only be longer in very exceptional circumstances. “These are cases where they are not exceptional circumstances and children are waiting up to three or four years. “That is a concern to us,” she told RTE radio. “A three- or four-year period can be a lifetime. “It means that if that child misses out on an assessment, they miss out on those services being unlocked, and it can result in them being very unhappy and not developing.”

RTE (Ireland) : Delay for special needs assessment too long 

 Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has acknowledged that children are waiting far too long to get an assessment of need.

He was reacting to questions about figures obtained by RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, showing over 5,000 children are waiting longer than the law permits to have needs such as autism formally assessed.

Figures released by the Health Service Executive show that the average waiting time was 19 months, despite a legal requirement for the assessment to be completed within six months….

Stephanie Kavanagh has already been waiting a year for an assessment for her two-and-a-half-year-old son and said she has been told that due to Covid-19 she could be waiting another 18-34 months. …

There were 5,083 overdue assessments at the end of March, less than 3% of which were because of exceptional circumstances….

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Tanya Ward said the State should be directing its resources towards getting mass assessment for children and unlocking those services, adding that over €2bn [$3B U.S.] a year is spent on disability services. …

She added: “What has happened is that this wait has often turned into a three-year wait or more.”

Irish Times: Special needs children will get back-to-school support, Madigan pledges Not ‘tolerable’ some schools refuse to set up specific classes despite demand from parents 

Thousands of pupils with special needs will require additional supports to help them readjust when schools reopen at the end of this month….

Campaign groups say many young people with conditions such as autism do not have appropriate school places in the coming academic year. They say the problem is acute in parts of Dublin, Cork and other mostly urban areas.

Tory Island, Donegal News (Ireland): Tory to become first autism friendly island

TORY is on the road to becoming Ireland’s first autism friendly island with members of the business community receiving training from Autism Awareness Northwest….

“We’re delighted that Tory Island have taken the first step in becoming the first island of Ireland to become autism friendly.

Dublin Journal: The long wait for autism assessment: ‘From cautiously optimistic to desperately worried’ 

WE’VE BEEN WAITING for over a year for my five-year-old son’s assessment of need with the HSE, with no sign of an appointment yet. He has had significant speech delay, it’s a struggle to understand him and he gets frustrated easily. Based on our own research, we think he has sensory processing disorder, an attention deficit disorder and is probably on the autism spectrum, but he hasn’t been seen by anyone qualified yet….


The average waiting time is 19 months, in spite of legal requirements stating that the HSE should commence an assessment within three months and complete it within six months. We’re still waiting. …

My child is (probably) autistic with ADHD and can’t talk clearly.

How the hell is this supposed to work? ‘Nothing happened and nothing changed’ 

Toronto Sun: Ontario government’s autism program not enough, families and critics say

The Ontario government began rolling out the first phase of its new program for families with autistic children on Friday, but critics and parents remain skeptical of the plan….

A recent report from the province’s fiscal watchdog said the waitlist for autism services in the province grew to 27,600 children last year….

Cheryl Clark said her seven-year-old son Drew was on the waitlist for four years awaiting funding. …