AN AUTISTIC child will be able to get to school without anxiety after winning an appeal for assisted transport
In May, Jacob Reinikka was declined entry into a program which would help him get to and from school without anxiety, on a technicality.
His mother, nurse Melissa Reinikka, appealed the decision a panel made to reject her son's application for the Assisted School Travel Program (ASTP).
She told the Leader she had since been told by a support unit staff member at her son's school that the appeal had been successful.
Ms Reinikka said the staff member told her it's the first time they had seen anyone outside of a support unit get into the transport program.
"I will be interested to know why I got approved this time, whether or not it was further information," Ms Reinikka said.
"Or it was just, 'yeah you were right, he is meant to be in a support class so he should be able to have access to any help'."
The eight-year-old has a sensory processing disorder, anxiety and some intellectual delay.
ASTP is only accessible to children who meet a list of eligibility criteria, which includes being enrolled in a support class for students with disability.
Jacob was assessed last year as being eligible for a multicategory support class (MC) - a class for children with autism, emotional disturbance, and moderate to severe intellectual or physical disability.
But he is one of 30 students who were deferred for support classes in the Tamworth region because there weren't enough spots available.
Students are prioritised by need, with regard to availability.
The decision to allow Jacob to have assisted transport, despite not being in a support class, means Ms Reinikka will no longer be stressed at 3:30 pm every school day.
"Because I work a seven day rotating shift roster, I'm not always able to take him to school," she said.
"It will give him a solid way to get to and from school that's within his capability to manage, I hope.
"Hopefully, it'll improve his experience while we await a support class."
The nurse puts her son's claim to the panel which places children in support classes whenever possible.
A school counsellor told the mother widening the category of classes Jacob can be accepted into beyond MC could give him a better chance at getting a place.
His school had been offering support to the family, Ms Reinikka said.
They contacted her after the initial request was rejected to ask how they could assist with the appeal.
"It's a small win, but it's going to be a great big help for us," Ms Reinikka said.
"And you never know what will happen if I just keep fighting."
She is considering starting a support group for parents of children with autism and difficulties at school.
"I'm happy for anyone to reach out to me that's out there that doesn't know where to start," she said.
"Because it's a tough road with kids with special needs."
The Department of Education did not respond with relevant comment by the time this article was published.
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