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Opinion: Special needs children are not naughty, and it is not “something in the water” that is causing numbers to rise

Three councillors elsewhere in the country have been forced to apologise after comments made about children with special needs during a meeting that was being streamed.

The three suggested the rise in the numbers of children with special needs was due to “parents swapping tips on how to get their children diagnosed”, and even a suggestion that “something in the water” was causing the rise.

There was also a comment from one of the three stating there were no children with special needs when he was at school.

UK one pound coins placed on a Council Tax Bill.
UK one pound coins placed on a Council Tax Bill.

As I constantly say there is a huge swathe of people in positions of power who have no idea what they are talking about and no understanding of the real world.

I think this is yet another example of this.

I don’t know how old the councillor who made the comment about there being no special needs children when he was at school, but I would suggest he might be a bit older than me.

And I can also say there were no children with special needs when I was at school either. But I would be lying.

Of course, there were. The difference was that those days we didn’t have a name for it so children were simply not diagnosed, were pigeon-holed as not being bright, as being a bit “odd” or just plainly ignored.

I’m sure there were children with autism in my year group, there were also children with dyslexia and a whole range of other needs.

But sadly in those days (I’m 61) there was not the understanding we have today, and they were basically left to struggle on, unsupported, and in some cases written-off.

When I think about that, it makes me really sad.

These days. thankfully, we are more aware, and we recognise neurodiversity in all its forms, and we offer those children the help they need to make sense of the World, and to do well in school.

But there is an arduous process to go through to get a diagnosis and to get a child the support they need.

So it is hardly surprising that parents are swapping tips on how to do this via social media.

Another suggestion was that children don’t have conditions such as ADHD or autism but are simply badly behaved – what a kick in the teeth that must have been for the parents of Warwickshire, where this happened, who are struggling to cope with a neurodivergent child in an area where their concerns are so easily dismissed by the community’s leaders.

Children with autism for example have sensory issues, loud noises such as hand driers can set them off – they are not being naughty, their brains simply can’t cope with the noise.

So I suggest that these three, hang their heads in shame and if they don’t resign as many are calling for them to do, they at least undertake some kind of training, so they have a better grasp on subjects they know nothing about...

Next month the Council Tax bills for the upcoming financial year will be landing on our door mats.

As you are probably aware we are all facing a hike in the amount we are going to have to pay for our services for the next 12 months.

Everyone of the local authorities has gone for it when it comes to putting up this household tax – except of course Fenland District Council, who have done the opposite, and are cutting their proportion.

Sadly with the rise in all the other amounts for Cambridgeshire County Council, the police, fire, and the Combined Authority, we really are not going to notice the quid or two we are saving by Fenland’s actions...

Last year was the first to see the World’s first 12-month-long breach of a key global warming limit.

Between February 2023 and January 2024 the temperature rose across Earth by 1.52 degrees Celsius – in 2015 World leaders pledged to limit the planet’s long-term temperature rise to below 1.5.

That according to scientists will help protect the world’s ecosystems, upon which we all rely.

Sadly the impact of global warming and that higher-than-anticipated rise is already having an effect – flooding in Pakistan, wildfires across Europe, drought in parts of Africa – the list goes on.

I would hasten to add that even here in our small corner of the world we are seeing it too, with less rainfall – despite what seems like months of downpours – than average.

So quite frankly this is scary news indeed. It may not have too much of an impact on the older generations, but I must admit to being very worried about my grandsons’ generation and what they might have to face.

It has certainly made me think about some of the small things I can do to help such as ensuring everything is properly recycled. Buying products that are more sustainably produced – although that can be difficult for a lot of people when they tend to also be more expensive.

Not throwing things automatically into the bin, but considering whether it can be reused in some way and generally being more aware.

These may be small steps, but if we all took them then they could well add up to a big one and it has certainly got to be worth a try for the sake of our young people and the planet at large…

Finally, for those like me who absolutely hate the dark winter months – there is good news – we are exactly a month away from the sun setting after 6pm for the first time this year – it will happen around March 13.

And for the past week, we have been enjoying 10 hours of daylight – now all we need is for the rain to do one, the cold to blast off and for the sun to shine – spring is around the corner and quite frankly I can’t wait...

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