‘He deserves higher’: B.C. mother and father say extra assist wanted for son with autism – BC

A heartbreaking story about a family who says the education system has failed them is generating a big response and an outpouring of support online.

Karyn Millar shared a photo on Facebook of her 13-year-old son, Tristan.

The photo shows him sitting alone at the edge of his Surrey, BC, school grounds, eating a snack and scrolling through his phone while other kids play nearby.

“Let me first start by saying…this picture is sad,” Karyn wrote. “It makes me really sad. I am sad because this kid is the funniest, kindest, most caring individual on the planet. He is a talented artist, he is obsessed with computer animation and how movies are made.

“He can tell you the year any Pixar movie was made and he actually loves talking about all of those things.”

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Tristan has autism but that doesn’t define him.

Karyn said her son is age and grade-appropriate for many activities, including socializing and making friends but he is not given the chance to be.

“I’m sad for him because I know who he could be and I’m frustrated because I feel like I’m repeating myself, again and again, asking for help,” Karyn told Global News Friday.

“I’m sad for him because he deserves better.”

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She said she has asked the school for help but has been told there are either no hours left or no money left to have an education assistant available for recess and lunch to monitor and help Tristan.

“Tristan has really bad social anxiety so he doesn’t have the skills, or hasn’t been able to practice the skills in school due to a lack of support for the last, I don’t know how many years to overcome that anxiety to interject himself into play or ask to join others playing,” Karyn added.

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Karyn said she has heard from so many parents on her post that have children experiencing the same treatment and isolation that Tristan is going through.

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“A price tag should not be put on human connection,” she said. “What I want is for every kid to have one-to-one support. What I want is for Tristan to have someone out with him at recess and lunch that understands what a kid with autism needs, encourage him to get out of his comfort zone and past those social anxieties that he has.”

Tristan’s dad, Ryan, said he worries about his son’s feelings and his future.

“It’s a constant daily fear of someone blaming him or bullying him for something he’s trying to overcome on a regular basis,” Ryan said.

“For a parent with autism, there’s so many daily struggles that you go through. You’re constantly trying to fight for your child. All you want to know is you’re giving him the best opportunities.”

Ryan said when he sees those photos of Tristan sitting alone, he wants to do everything he can but there are limits to what parents can do when their children are in school.

Click to play video: 'Father of son with autism heartened by response to birthday party post'

Father of son with autism heartened by response to birthday party post

Father of son with autism heartened by response to birthday party post

Both Karyn and Ryan said they would like to see at least an attempt made with the resources available to give Tristan support for the remaining five weeks of his elementary school career.

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But ultimately, Karyn said the system is broken.

She would like people to help by writing to the Surrey School Board and the Ministry of Education, asking for more funding for education, especially for children with special needs.

Global News reached out to Tristan’s school and the Surrey School District. Late Friday the district said there is an appeal process for parents who do not agree with cuts to their child’s support.

— with files from Rumina Daya

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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