Support for children with learning difficulties is ‘getting beyond a joke’ says Thurso mother

A Caithness mother has claimed support for children with learning difficulties is “getting beyond a joke”.

Mishelle Love from Thurso says there are between 15 and 20 parents in the town who have kids with issues although there may be “others who are struggling as well”.

Far north MP Jamie Stone said he would gladly take the case up with the Scottish and UK governments.

Mishelle Love with her son Jack.

Mishelle has a seven-year-old son Jack who was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder when he was in primary one. The condition affects his behaviour.

He gets angry and frustrated and is unable to deal with mainstream education. Jack, who is a pupil at Pennyland primary in Thurso, gets one-to-one support at the school from 9am to noon, five days a week, but Mishelle feels his help should be extended.

“He is getting play therapy but needs education. He can’t read or write. He can’t express himself and gets very angry and frustrated,” she said.

Mishelle got to the stage where she was at breaking point and social workers got involved. She has been told that funding is not available to extend Jack’s support and the only option for him may be a place in residential care at a residential school in Inverness.

But Mishelle doesn’t want that. “Why should children be taken into residential care to get the support and help they need and get ripped away from their families? He would be miles and miles away and living with strangers and that would not help him at all,” she said.

Mishelle would prefer some extended help for her son so he could stay at home. “That would be beneficial for Jack and for me,” she said.

The 44-year-old stressed there are other families who are struggling as well. “I am aware of about 15 to 20 parents who have kids with issues in Thurso but there may be others who are struggling as well,” she said.

A planned meeting with concerned mothers and local MP Jamie Stone was due to held last Friday but was postponed, although Mishelle hopes it can be re-arranged for another time.

“I would hope for a way forward and that things can get done for the kids. The education and social work departments say they listen but they are not listening. We are all struggling,” she said.

Jamie Stone said he would gladly take up the case with the Scottish and UK Governments
Jamie Stone said he would gladly take up the case with the Scottish and UK Governments

Mishelle pointed out that a meeting is to be held in February next year to decide what happens to her young son. “I am hoping he will still be at home and getting some kind of extended support and for longer than he gets now,” she added.

She lives in Thurso with Jack and partner Thomas. She has another son Jamie but he does not live at home.

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP Mr Stone said: “As a carer myself, albeit for my wife rather than a child, I know only too well the sheer stress of what these parents are going through. It is the mark of a civilized society when it treats those most in need with compassion and real help.

“This is what I fear is lacking in this case and I shall gladly take up the issue with both the UK and Scottish governments on their behalf.”

A Highland Council spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on an individual’s personal circumstances, but can confirm that our council officers work with families through ongoing discussion to identify and agree appropriate packages of support.”

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