A nine-year-old boy has appealed to the prime minister in a heartfelt letter to better support disabled families.
Nate Courtney wrote to Rishi Sunak saying he felt “sad” as his parents “always have to fight” for him and his disabled sister.
The letter said his parents “have to fight for everything, even a wheelchair for my sister” who is autistic and suffers from a muscle disease.
Nate, who also has autism, added that his parents felt “failed and forgotten” as they were “always going to meetings, talking on the phone and writing letters on the computer.”
Pleading for help, he wrote: “Let our parents just be our parents so we can enjoy ourselves.”
His letter follows a survey from the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) which suggested only one in five parents of disabled children felt they received the right amount of support for their child to reach their potential.
The 2,200 responses from the survey revealed one in seven parents thought their disabled child had the correct level of support from social care, one fifth from health services and a third from their educational environment.
The Department for Education recently announced thousands of specialist school places would be created for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) children, with an expansion of staff training to ensure earlier help would be provided.
A total of 33 local authorities across England were selected to have special schools built in their areas.
However, the DCP criticized the plan as it fell “short” of the urgent reforms needed to address the “crisis” in support for children and their families.
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The organization previously reported parents of disabled children had to give up their jobs or forego their entire careers to take care of their kids.
‘The stress on families is relentless’
Campaign manager for DCP, Stephen Kingdom, said: “Nate’s story brings to life the shocking statistics in our Failed and Forgotten Report. Both show that parents are filling the gaps left by underfunding of official provision. The stress on families is relentless.
“We welcome some elements of the Department for Education’s Improvement Plan but it doesn’t go far enough to ensure children receive the support to which they are legally entitled.”
The DCP’s report, published on 6 March, said: “Once again, as we reported during the pandemic, it is disabled children and their families that will be disproportionately affected by the current social climate.
“Disabled children are not immune from the record-breaking waiting times, backlogs and workforce issues across health and social care.
“NHS data shows that the proportion of disabled children waiting for treatment is equivalent to adults, and disabled children waiting for equipment, such as wheelchairs, are likely to wait longer than adults.”