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Abrupt dismissal of autistic child from daycare shocks family

Autism New Zealand have called the actions of a South Auckland kindergarten ‘disappointing’ after the centre dismissed a four-year-old boy from its care.

Zeeshan Ahmed and his son, Arsal

A four-year-old autistic boy, who cannot speak, has been banned from attending Tiny Town Kindergarten Pakuranga, even though he’d been attending for a year without any problems, his father said.

Zeeshan Ahmed told Stuff that Tiny Town gave him notice last Friday, and that he would have seven days to remove his son from the pre-school permanently.

Describing his boy as “very calm and peaceful… not aggressive at all”, Zeeshan told Stuff he couldn’t understand why the daycare centre had asked his son to leave.

“How can they ask my son to leave? Education is his basic right and he was not doing any damage to any kid or any facility in the kindergarten”, he said.

Arsal Ahmed had been doing well at the daycare centre. Image: Facebook
Arsal Ahmed had been doing well at the daycare centre. Image: Facebook

Zeeshan said his son had been doing well at the kindergarten, and that his behaviour had been changing positively since enrolling last year.

According to Zeeshan, Arsal was dismissed due to a lack of funding for the one-on-one attention the boy needs.

The Ministry of Education have reacted strongly to the decision, and have said the issue could have been resolved with “a little discussion”

Head of sector enablement and support Steve Stuart said the kindergarten had taken this step without getting in touch first.

“The ministry’s special education team had been working with the family, both at the kindergarten and at home, since they arrived in Auckland more than a year ago”, he told Stuff.

While the actions of the daycare centre were not illegal, the ministry said the centre was required to have a plan in place to deal with children who may have special education or behavioural needs.

Autism New Zealand’s chief executive Dane Dougan said that a lack of tolerance from educators was all too common.

An issue for the parents, Dougan explained to Stuff, was finding another daycare centre could be difficult, and was likely to take time.

Zeeshan, a permanent resident of New Zealand since 2014 said he hoped his story would help raise awareness, and offer support and encouragement for autistic children.

“Luckily, Zeeshan told Stuff, he is not grown up yet and he cannot understand why he is being kicked out.”