Seven-year-old Louie Lee has never managed a whole day at school, while mum Michelle Cassemis said he is still waiting for a diagnosis – leaving her unable to return to her day job as a hairdresser
A seven-year-old boy who has never spent a full day at school is unable to read or write – and can only count as high as 20.
Louie Lee has been waiting years for a diagnosis of his special educational needs and behavioral issues, leaving his mum in desperate need of help.
Single mum-of-three Michelle Cassemis, from Cardiff, claims she has desperately been trying to get help since she started nursery but that her son as been “let down by the system”.
He only got a statement of special educational needs last year when he was six, years after it was apparent to his teachers and his mother that something was wrong, Wales Online reports.
Although Michelle has “nothing but praise” for Louie’s former school – St John Lloyd Primary – she insists her son “couldn’t cope”, and she was forced to remove him from mainstream education entirely in July 2021.
Since then, Louie has stayed at home meaning she cannot return to her day job as a hairdresser.
Without a diagnosis, no suitable school can apparently be found for her son, according to “heart-broken” Michelle, who can’t bear that her youngest child has no school friends and has been “denied the help he needs”.
Michelle’s older children Michael, 19, and 17-year-old Hollie attended the same primary school without trouble.
She has blasted the long delays in helping children like Louie, who could not remain in school for a full day because he has so many behavioral and anxiety problems.
She raged: “When Louie started in reception he stayed at school for 90 minutes a day, then it went down to 60 and then 30. He was on a very reduced timetable for years.
“He did not get a statement of his special needs until he was six, and we are still waiting to see someone for a diagnosis to see what is wrong.
“He has been sent a private tutor at home but that didn’t work either. I have been told so many things he might have, but he has had no diagnosis. I have been told he seems to have autism or ADHD.
“We have been back and forth to the doctors for three years. The headteacher of his school was amazing.
“I can’t say a bad word about her, but she was in a position where it was not possible to keep Louie in school. It became pointless sending him in. He didn’t want to leave the house and has attachment issues.
“I was struggling to get him in to school. Then after all that he was only in for half an hour. It wasn’t worth the chaos and battle.”
Michelle said the school got Louie one to one help but he couldn’t build a relationship and that failed too: “I have been told so many things but Louie has lost so much. He ca n’t read or write and he has never had any school life at all.
“He’s not played in the school yard or joined in with PE.”
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said it was sorry for the long delays in referral that Louie has had, with a spokesperson saying: “We apologize to Louie and his family for the delays experienced in exploring a diagnosis. The diagnostic process for neurodevelopment is complex and waiting times for access into services is not where we would wish.
“We are working hard to improve this. This includes making changes to the way services are organized based on consultation with a variety of health professionals with expertise in this area and continuing to explore opportunities to increase capacity.
“Our teams are also working closely with parents and colleagues in the education sector to support the referral process and the collection of the information required by professionals to support diagnostics.”
Cardiff Council said a child’s needs don’t depend on diagnosis.
A spokesperson said: “Cardiff Council’s education services will always endeavor to respond to a child’s needs and this is not dependent on a diagnostic process.
“Schools are supported to provide a series of provisions to pupils and their families depending on their circumstances and individual needs.
“This includes providing specialist teaching advice and support, facilitating educational psychology assessment and advice, providing a bespoke wellbeing and nurturing approach to learning and where appropriate, the provision of tuition at home whilst a suitable placement is found.
“Ensuring that the individual needs of each child is met is our priority and work is undertaken with a multi-agency approach to find suitable and sustainable provision which allows the child to thrive and which works for both pupil and family.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.