A mum has claimed she was spied on by teachers and accused of making up her son's autism after she asked for more help for him in the classroom.
The claim was made by 39-year-old Jenny Lockley who told the Mail on Sunday that she was accused of having Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP) – in which sufferers fabricate illness in a child to draw attention to themselves – because she insisted her son Sam, now 12, had needed support. She said nursery school teachers dismissed three diagnoses of autism. Mrs Lockley, a mother-of-two from Solihull, West Midlands, told the newspaper: "This scandal has to be exposed before more damage is done."
She was never told she was being investigated as a 'Münchausen's mum' – and only found out after she asked to see council documents about herself using the Freedom of Information Act.
She said: "What I discovered horrified me."
She learned that staff at Lady Katherine Leveson Church of England Primary School in Solihull secretly watched her coming into school with Sam and older daughter Laura, now 18, in a bid to prove their case.
They also held a secret meeting about her parenting skills during which 'child protection issues' were raised.
Mrs Lockley said: "I was gutted to find out what they had engaged in, which was basically a witch hunt. My world fell apart."
She said that problems started when she tried to get Sam assessed for special needs, only to be told he was fine.
During a six-year battle, she spent £10,000 on private medical reports proving that her son needed extra help, and £14,000 on lawyers to force Solihull Council to fund a place at a private school for autistic children. In 2010, she succeeded.
The newspaper said the mum was just one of dozens of parents of autistic children who contacted them with claims that teachers or social workers accused them of making up the disorder.
The paper added that in some cases children have been put on the child protection register – meaning the authorities believe them to be at 'serious risk of harm'.
And in a few, parents claimed their children had been taken away from them and wrongly put into care.
Now almost 800 people have signed an internet petition calling on the National Autistic Society to act against the accusations being used as a 'bullying tactic' by schools and local authorities.
Carol Povey from the National Autistic Society said: "Many families across the country struggle to get a diagnosis of autism for their child, and report that local authorities and professionals can lack the necessary understanding of the lifelong developmental condition.
"It's vital that assessments are carried out by professionals who have an in-depth understanding of autism."
A spokesman for Solihull Borough Council said: "We do not comment about the circumstances of individual cases.
"Lady Katherine Leveson School has been contacted but does not wish to comment either."