A father has been left furious after his autistic son was banned from attending his school’s sports day.
28-year-old Mark Birchall said that a classroom support worker said to keep his son away, as it would avoid the seven-year-old from ‘causing a scene’.
Jacob, who attends Banks Road Primary School in Garston, Liverpool, has Asperger syndrome, and ‘cried his eyes out’ upon being told the news.
Jacob’s father Mark acknowledged that the youngster may have struggled but to exclude him from the event was completely wrong.
Speaking to UNILAD Mark said:
It’s made me extremely angry – I feel they were embarrassed by him, rather than just thinking about his needs.
It was disgusting to single him out because he is different – it’s excluding him – which is exactly what you are supposed to not do with children with special needs.
It should be about inclusion – even if he didn’t take part, he could have handed out medals or been a referee.
It feels like it was about keeping him away, about showing there were no issues at the school.
Jacob cried his eyes out when we told him he wasn’t able to go.
He had been practicing trial runs at school, and said he wanted to be as fast as his hero, the car Lightning McQueen – it broke his heart not being able to race against other ‘cars’.
Mark decided to give Jacob a special day regardless and taking time off work to hold their own sports day, even buying him a gold medal.
It’s hard to accept sudden changes like that when you have autism, so I had to take the day off work to do my own sports day with him.
Because autism isn’t a physical, visible disability, I feel people with autism aren’t accepted the same way.
He would have enjoyed being part of an event like that.
After sharing their experience on Facebook, Mark said he has been encouraged and overwhelmed ‘by the incredible response from others’, with the post being shared nearly 400 times.
Mark confirmed that he has found a new school for Jacob to start in September and continued:
I’ve met with the school governor who is conducting a full investigation.
Headteacher Linda Gibson has since apologised over the ‘inappropriate suggestion’ and said it was not the view of the school.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo she said:
I am really sorry for the upset this has caused and I am meeting personally with the family together with our Chair of Governors to discuss their concerns.
We have a clear policy that all of our children take part in sports day and I have taken steps to make sure this can’t happen again.
We should hope so too!
A sports enthusiast with a BA (Hons) in Sports Journalism, who can be found predominantly at Villa Park. Having completed a Masters in Broadcast Journalism, she then went on to work at Sky Sports, the BBC, and the Mirror. When not engrossed in sport, it’s animals, guitars, and Liam Gallagher which take main focus.