How to be a smart, happy child, says a mother of three
Posted On August 9, 2021
The mother of a three-year-old boy who developed a mental illness and autism while at school is speaking out about how to help her son grow up.
Mayport Elementary School in Sydney, Australia, has been a national centre for research on children with special needs.
According to the National Child Mental Health Foundation, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a lower rate of school-related learning problems, are more likely to attend school and have better grades.
Their parents are also more likely, on average, to be employed.
“My son, he’s been in the classroom for three years now,” said Ms Ayla Smith, who had been diagnosed with ASD when she was nine months old.
She said her son’s behaviour had improved and he now has a better self-esteem, but his parents, who are both parents, were also worried about their son’s mental health.
Ms Smith said she had taken him to a GP after one day and was told that she needed to go home to look after him, as there was “no point in talking to him”.
She then took him to the local mental health centre and the first week was spent waiting for a psychiatrist to see him.
The next two weeks were spent in a “barking room”, where they were held down by restraints and told they were to “wait and see” if they needed to be hospitalized, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Mr Smith said that the “barks” were often for several minutes at a time, and that he had to keep his head down and his hands up.
He said he also felt like a prisoner in a cage, and “they weren’t letting me out”.
After three weeks, Ms Smith had to have the boy transferred to another school because the parents were “not happy with the way it was going”.
Ms O’Sullivan, who was diagnosed with autism at 15 and later started attending school as a child, said that her son was a “really special little boy” and that his behaviour was improved after he was put on medication.
“[He] started to really start to get in touch with himself,” she said.
But when he was three years old, Mr Smith said his parents “didn’t know what to do with him”.
“They were always like, ‘Oh, he can’t go to school, he needs to stay at home,'” he said.
“And I just didn’t know why they didn’t understand that he was special and that they should be helping him out, even though he was really not able to do it.”
It was very hard.
“Ms Smith and her husband, a former construction worker, have been in a long fight for years to get the boy into a special school.
In 2015, the family filed a case with the High Court to try to get him enrolled in an Aussie school, which had refused to enroll him.
Ms O’sullivan said that when the High Commissioner for Education (CIE) made a formal request for a hearing, the case was adjourned and she said that “nothing happened”.
The family also filed a complaint with the Department of Human Services (DHS) about the decision.
On Thursday, a NSW court ordered the DHS to “review the decision made by the High Commission” and “review and update” the decision, meaning the case would be reconsidered.
However, the court said the decision had “no legal basis”.
Ms Smith’s case will be heard in the High Courts again on February 19.