Juliane Khadra with son Liam, 10, on the front porch of their South Surrey home. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Success story for families fighting for autism help

School district backs ‘safety issue’ in South Surrey parent’s appeal for full-time support

A South Surrey parent who last week described a fight to regain full-time classroom support hours for her autistic son is celebrating after learning the 30 minutes has been reinstated.

“I heard it just today,” a relieved Juliane Khadra told Peace Arch News Wednesday. “This is amazing. I’m so happy.”

In an article published last week, Khadra told PAN she was “freaking out” over the reduction in ABA (applied behavioural analysis) support time to her son, Liam. It had been cut to 25 hours per week, from 27.5, which Khadra said meant she would have to pull the 10-year-old out of his White Rock Elementary class early every day.

District officials said the allocations were based on ongoing and extensive evaluations of student needs.

READ MORE: ‘I don’t think they believe our kids have potential’

Khadra told PAN last week that she had provided extensive documentation to district officials in support of full-time hours for Liam, and that more recently, had put the focus on his safety. He has a life-threatening heart condition, but can’t communicate any symptoms he may be experiencing, and is also a flight risk, she explained.

In a meeting last Friday with a school district assistant superintendent – scheduled by coincidence on the same day Khadra’s family’s story appeared in PAN – safety was a priority, Khadra said.

“She said, ‘you’re right,’” Khadra said. “She told me it’s good the focus was not on education. Her focus was the safety issue for Liam.”

Liam was not the only student to have time reinstated. School district spokesman Doug Strachan confirmed Wednesday afternoon that “a few other families” also had support hours increased.

“This is part of the typical process at this time of year as we get closer to the start of the new school year and have better data regarding registrations and staffing needs,” Strachan said by email.

White Rock parent Rozann Pedersen said she was “absolutely thrilled” to learn late Wednesday afternoon that her son Lucas’s support was also reinstated to full-time. The news arrived just a few days after she had asked to address school trustees directly on the concern.

Both Khadra and Pedersen told PAN that while they are relieved by the reinstatement, they will not be surprised to be faced with the same plight next year.

“Every year you have to go through the exact same thing,” Khadra said. “We got what we wanted for the time being. We’ll see what next year brings us.”

 

Juliane Khadra reads an email she sent to school district officials regarding the cut to her son Liam’s support hours, appealing for “equal access to educational service.” (File photo)

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