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Angry mum accuses Newark College of 'discriminating' against her autistic son


By Rachel Armitage


An angry mum has said a college discriminated against her autistic son.

Tyler Roberts, 16, who has autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, enrolled on a IT software course at Newark College, a joint venture with Team Know-How.

Tyler’s disabilities mean that he finds loud and crowded places very intimidating.

(back) Louise Roberts-Bridgewater.(front) Tyler Roberts. (16688757)
(back) Louise Roberts-Bridgewater.(front) Tyler Roberts. (16688757)

His mum, Louise Roberts-Bridgewater, said the most difficult thing for Tyler would be walking from the college entrance to his classroom and would need someone to walk with him.

Louise said she had been assured by the college that Tyler would be given all the support he needed.

On the second day of term, however, she said there was no-one there to greet him.

When help was requested, Louise said her son was told he would need to look after himself, as the Special Educational Needs (SEN) teacher had other youngsters to look after.

The next day she claimed Tyler was told he needed to learn how to do things himself, as he would need to walk by himself in the workplace.

Louise said: “He was told he needs to do these things on his own.

“Just because he doesn’t look disabled it doesn’t mean he doesn’t need help.

“I feel that if he had Down’s Syndrome he’d get plenty of help.”

Louise said problems arose when she asked if Tyler could eat his lunch in a quiet room, as it would make him uncomfortable to eat with others.

She said she was told this was not allowed and Tyler as a result became too scared to eat his lunch.

Louise said Tyler has had to leave the course.

“I feel like he’s being judged, and we’ve been looking at courses at other colleges because he’s not confident enough to go to a Newark any more,” she said.

“I’ve been looking at courses in Grantham or Lincoln but it’s a long way to go and I’d have to take him and drop him off.

“I feel like we’re being discriminated against.

“Autism isn’t a new thing, people have known about it for a long time, and I feel like Tyler hasn’t had any support at all.”

James Newall, group head of marketing and communication at Lincoln College Group, which runs Newark College, said: “We are still working with the family to ensure a suitable course, at the right level, with the appropriate support can be provided.

“If for some reason we are unable to provide the appropriate levels of support, our independent careers advice team will help the family to find a suitable solution with an alternative training provider or school.”

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