Child with autism left 'working on the floor' due to Wokingham Borough Council 'failures'

Wokingham Borough Council was ordered to pay £1,450 along with an apology to the child's mother. Credit: ITV Meridian

Delays and failures by Wokingham Borough Council caused a mother and her son with autism "avoidable distress" - including having to spend time working on the floor.

The council was ordered to pay £1,450 along with an apology to the mother as a result of a government-backed investigation.

The mother - known as "Mrs X" in the investigator's report - complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman that the council had failed to arrange and provide all of her son's support.

Her son - named as "Y" - has special educational needs relating to autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and sensory processing disorder. His education, health and care plan says he needs specialist writing software, specialist seating, speech and language therapy and 15 hours of tutoring

Y was left working on the floor for a period as the council was late in paying for suitable seating. The council needed a list of specialist equipment from an occupational therapist before it would give Mrs X the money to buy it.

However the therapist didn't provide that list until April 2022, and there was no evidence that the council tried to chase it up. In the meantime, Y broke two dining room chairs, meaning he had to work on the floor.

The ombudsman found the council was at fault for its failure to provide the child with a speech and language therapist. Credit: ITV Meridian

The delay also meant Y didn't get his specialist writing software until June of that year.

Y also missed out on at least two months of occupation therapy between late February and May 2022 because of how long it took the council to agree on payment arrangements with the provider.

There were also several incidents when the council failed to reply - or only partly replied - to Mrs X's emails between February and June 2022, causing her "avoidable frustration, time and trouble."

The ombudsman also found that the council was at fault for its failure to provide Y with a speech and language therapist until April 2022 - despite its efforts.

The council contacted several therapy providers throughout March 2022, but found a shortage of suitable therapists, the ombudsman accepts.

However the investigator ruled that, as the council had a legal duty to provide this therapy, this was still a "service failure."

However, the investigator found that - although Y did not get his full 15 hours of tutoring - this was not due to failure on the part of the council, which tried to encourage the provider to increase his hours.

The ombudsman also found that the council did not have to provide Y with a learning support assistant under Y's education, health and care plan.

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