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This story was written by Jacque's mother Nikki Venables and was originally submitted to Talk about Autism. It is reprinted here with her permission:
My son Jacque is 18 years old; he has autism/aspergers, social and communication difficulties. Jacque used to attend a school where he spent eight years and absolutely loved every aspect of it.
June 2009 came around all too quick, Jacque was not prepared to leave and in his words "Mum I have lost my meaning". As a mother my heart was broken. Jacque was due to start College in September. The college offered Jacque Level 2 Foundation Course, Jacque chose several subjects and he also was offered the buddy system, the college had received funding to support the buddy system. Jacque struggled to cope with college, however, he started to enjoy and even started to get the bus home two nights per week with a friend.
The summer of 2010 came around and Jacque's course for the following year was organised. September came around, at no point had the college notified me of any changes and at no point had they informed me that the funding had been cut. It took us a while to get Jacque prepared to go back to college, however, he did but the following events were most upsetting.
I dropped Jacque off at the college and heard nothing from him for the rest of the day so in my mind I thought Jacque was fine and settled. I picked him up at 4pm only to be met with a very angry young man, throwing things in reception and in a state of total confusion, I was then informed that Jacque had not been assigned a buddy this year as the funding had been cut, therefore, Jacque had been left to cope with lunch and the college alone, this college is very large and busy. He was then left for two hours in the canteen until the tutor in his lesson realised that Jacque should have been there. Quite right that Jacque was angry and confused.
We met with the Head of Foundation Studies who apologised to us and said that they did not think that Jacque needed a buddy for this year. I then proceeded to inform them that they had spent the previous year with Jacque and had several meetings with us regarding some issues how could they not know that Jacque would not need a buddy. It took weeks for me to try to get Jacque back into college, we then had suicide threats from him and life got so bad for him that we decided he should leave and look at other provisions.
I then contacted Connexions and everything they offered us Jacque was unable to join in there was always an excuse. Jacque now has nothing substantial in his life, he sleeps all day and is up all night, and we have just finished his autistic assessment for eligibility and are hoping to hear soon. We are also at the medical stage with the DVLA as Jacque is very keen to drive and has been learning his theory now for months and understands more about road signs and speed limits then I who has been driving for 25 years.
I am now at a desperate state as Jacque is such an intelligent boy he is wasted just sitting at home but there really is nothing for him to do. I am a mother who loves her son dearly and would love him to succeed in something he is amazing with computers and films he has excellent English and numeracy skills.
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