Melanie Sykes Has Found A School For Son With Autism, But Is Still Determined To Raise Awareness

'It feels like I’m in a club and I feel like a mouthpiece for it.'

16/09/2016 10:57

Melanie Sykes has revealed she has found a school for her son with autism, following a long struggle.

The 46-year-old revealed in June 2016 that her 11-year-old son Valentino had left a mainstream school and they were having a hard time finding an alternative. 

The TV presenter said her family were “relieved” when they found a school for |Valentino and he started just over a week ago. 

“I wanted him to be with children he could learn something from,” Sykes told the ITV ‘Loose Women’ panel.

“You need to push them a little bit. There needs to be more awareness for what children on the spectrum need.”


Although she’s now found a school, Sykes told the ‘Loose Women’ presenters more schools need to have provision for “children straddling both worlds”.

“I’m messaged all the time by mums who can’t find a school for their children with autism,” she added.

“It feels like I’m in a club and I feel like a mouthpiece for it. Some parents are struggling to even get meetings with school headmasters about it.”

Sykes said she encountered many “obstacles” when searching for a school for her child. She wanted to find a school that would encourage her son to be “independent and self-sufficient”. She called the search “depressing”.

At the time, Sarah Lambert, head of policy at the National Autistic Society, said Sykes’ experience was “all too familiar”.

“Melanie’s experience will be all too familiar to many parents of autistic children,” Lambert told The Huffington Post UK

“In our experience, exclusions [from mainstream education] are often due to the child not getting the support they need, either because of a lack of understanding of autism or because the placement is inappropriate.

“We’ve seen again and again, how the right education placement and support from teachers who understand autism can make all the difference for children on the autism spectrum, helping them go onto further education, employment or whatever they choose to do.

“Anyone who is in need of help and advice can get in touch with our Education Rights Service.”

Watch Sykes’ full ‘Loose Women’ interview here. The ITV show is on weekdays from 12.30pm. 

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