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Judge Rules Son, 18, With CP Can’t Live At Home Because Mother Wants To Homeschool Him

November 13, 2013

Readers, I have just read a story that has deeply upset me.

A mother decided, 10 years ago, that she wanted to homeschool her son, who has Cerebral Palsy. However, when he was admitted to hospital as an inpatient two years ago, her local council, Northamptonshire County, informed her that he could not return to the family home. Why? Simply because they felt that she had an ‘alternative stance on education’ which was ‘not in his best interests.’

The mother says the son, known only as ‘T,’ is desperate to come home. However, earlier this year, a judge ruled that T lacked the mental capacity to make decisions related to his welfare or education.

So he was placed in residential care, and enrolled in a school, 100 miles away from his family home. This is a move which, his mother argues, is depriving him of his liberty. She does not feel her son should attend a conventional school because he has now passed compulsory schooling age.

T was not given any say in this decision. His mother argues that he is an adult, and should be treated as such. She wants his views to be respected. She says that her son is desperate to come home, that he is suffering emotionally due to separation from her, as well as physically because he would be cared for better at home, by his family, than in the residential placement.

Most importantly, the mother argues that T has ‘a clear memory’ and ‘intellectual gifts’ which ‘far outweigh his physical abilities.’ She says that he has studied Romeo and Juliet.

However, the court ruled that there was a question over whether the mother would enable T to complete his final year of education.

The mother does not feel it would be in her son’s best interests to attend school. However, the court ruled that the education was good for him, was in his best interests and that he was happy at school. The judge added that T’s time at school is extremely important, educationally and socially.

So, why has this case hit me so hard? Because I have Cerebral Palsy myself, as do many of my friends. I know several people who are severely affected by Cerebral Palsy, but who are highly intelligent and have every ability to express decisions, feelings and opinions.

Due to having close friends who have faced similar situations, of doubts over their intelligence by professionals even though they are highly intelligent, I completely believe the mother when she says that her son has academic abilities and the mental capacity to make his own decisions.

It is not clear whether T can communicate verbally, but if he cannot, I sincerely hope this is not the only reason why the court assumes he lacks mental capacity.

I have to wonder why nothing has been revealed about the mother’s reasons for choosing to homeschool T, in particular. It has been revealed that she has also chosen to homeschool two of her other three children.

However, in T’s particular case there could be any number of reasons for her making the choice. I have known mothers who chose to homeschool their disabled children because conventional schools refused to accept them, as a result of their disabilities.

Others have chosen homeschooling because their children were experiencing bullying, again, most probably a result of their disabilities.

Of course, I know that attending a conventional school is very important for a child’s social development. However, if T was being homeschooled for either of these two reasons, then I cannot see how attending a conventional school could be in his best interests. Surely, after homeschooling him for 10 years, his mother knows his academic abilities and can meet his educational needs?

Surely it is better to lack a busy social life than to experience bullying as a result of disability, a situation that a person cannot help?

I have always been a passionate supporter of appropriate education for every child. However, I have also always strongly believed that parents know their children better than anyone else. T’s mother clearly knows his abilities. She clearly recognizes his intelligence and appreciates it. If she believes that homeschooling is appropriate for her son, then in my personal opinion, her son should be homeschooled. Last I checked, there was nothing illegal about homeschooling in itself.

As for the separation, my heart goes out to them both. Personally, as a disabled ‘child,’ I could not stand to be forced to live 100 miles away from my family. I would hate to be forced into a situation where someone outside my family was meeting my care needs.

It upsets me deeply that this child who shares my disability has been separated from his mother, who he clearly wants to live with and who clearly loves him.

I wish there was something that could be done to change this court ruling, and to reunite this family. Although the judge said success on appeal was not likely, the mother said she would fight on, and personally, I wish her every success with the fight.

 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2014 11:20 am

    However, earlier this year, a judge ruled that T [who has CP] lacked the mental capacity to make decisions related to his welfare or education.
    Wait, what? Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding of cerebral palsy is that it’s a physical disability arising from brain damage to the areas that control movement, and doesn’t affect a person’s intellect in any way. Therefore, the only reason that T ‘lacks mental capacity’ is because the judge made a ruling to that effect.

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  1. A Desperate Mother Has Been Told By A Top Judge That Her Teenage Son Cannot Live With Her Because She Is An Advocate Of Home Schooling | Parents Rights Blog

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