Don't let our son be victim of speech therapy cuts
THE father of a child with autism is campaigning to bring back speech therapy to children aged six or older in Notts.
The service was ended in 2010 because of "expenditure pressures" on the budget of the now-defunct Notts Community Health.
But father-of-two Kevin Harrison, 43, of Lynemouth Court, Arnold, believes he could get the decision overturned if he gathers enough support from other families.
Mr Harrison – whose six-year-old son Daniel suffers with severe autism and can speak only a few words – said: "My son needs to have this therapy.
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"He was making progress from the sessions he was receiving. But now, because he has turned six, he is no longer allowed it on the NHS.
"It's madness, and I believe discriminatory against autistic people."
Speech therapy is offered to children above the age of six who live within the city boundary of Nottingham – where health services are provided by NHS Nottingham City.
In an effort to get the service restored for families living outside the city boundary, Mr Harrison has enlisted the help of charity Ipsea – which offers free and independent advice to parents of children with special educational needs.
Its chief executive, Jane McConnall, said that if more families came forward, the charity would take up the case on their behalf and fight for the decision to be overruled.
"Unfortunately, this type of thing happens more frequently than you think," she said.
Sam Walters, chief officer for the newly-formed Nottingham North and East Clinical Commissioning Group, said speech therapy was only offered to children who met "specified criteria".
When asked by the Post if such criteria meant aged over six, he agreed that it was one of the factors.
Mr Walters said: "The Children's Speech and Language Therapy Service assesses, diagnoses, designs and delivers care packages to targeted, specific groups of children.
"Care and treatment is based upon relevant guidance and national clinical standards.
"Locally, Notts County Council and Nottingham City Council have dedicated special needs support teams with responsibility to support school-aged children.
"Once children are in school, they require a different level of support and evidence shows that the results are not always as effective."
Families who have been affected by the cuts are urged to get in touch with Mr Harrison by e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.