A FRUSTRATED mother has called for public support in her quest for a Boronia school and the state government to fund an integration aide for her autistic son.
Alison Liu has become so fed up with the red tape surrounding her son Pip's eligibility for an integration aide that she has launched a letterbox campaign to raise awareness about his plight.
The postcard states Merry Christmas on the front and has a heartfelt message on the other side. "All I want for Christmas is an integration aide for my Autistic son".
She calls on people who receive the postcard to send it to the school or to contact Education Minister Martin Dixon. She also hopes the campaign will raise awareness about the flaws in how the department tests autistic children for integration aide eligibility.
Pip, 10, is a grade 5 pupil at Boronia West Primary School and has high-functioning autism, which affects his concentration and comprehension.
Mrs Liu said Pip's school reports were "quite poor" and he struggled academically because he lacks verbal skills. But Pip falls just short of qualifying for a government-funded integration aide, who would be able to provide support in the classroom.
Mrs Liu and her husband, Tim, were involved in mediation with the school — which was represented by education department solicitors — at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for the past 12 months. Mrs Liu said mounting costs forced them to abandon their case.
"It was too expensive and it could take another $20,000 to go back to the VCAT. They were offering nothing, so we had to withdraw — we can't afford to go into debt."
A spokeswoman for the school said Pip did not need an integration aide, a claim Mrs Liu said was "ridiculous".
The spokeswoman told the Weekly the school offered Pip and his family an individual learning plan and student support meetings. "Pip is popular at school, he is a lovely child, he loves coming to school and he is making progress," she said.
Two children at the school had integration aides, the spokeswoman said, and they were "extremely needy" with both behavioural and learning difficulties.
Mrs Liu said she knew the school's hands were tied but the department should revise the tests. It had offered Pip a third assessment but because it would follow the same criteria it made "no sense". "If he can utter a sentence and tie his shoelaces, he doesn't get an aide," Mrs Liu said.
The education department did not respond to the Weekly's questions before deadline.