A GLASGOW solicitor specialising in education law said more must be done to support autistic children placed in mainstream schools.

Donna Morgan, of the Govan Law Centre, said disputes with the local authorities over school placements for autistic children make up the bulk of her case load.

Ms Morgan, who works at the centre’s Education Law Unit, and who acts for parents at Additional Support Needs Tribunals (ASNT), said the number of cases of this kind have been steadily high for the past two years.

The solicitor said more support is needed to help these children “transition” from nursery to primary school and then into secondary school as well ass better consultation with parents.

Parents from action group PACT for Autism, based in Shettleston, have previously spoken out about concerns over a lack of support for autistic children in the education system and say this is causing some to become distressed and self-harm.

They say that while mainstream school may be the best option for some, others are not thriving or even learning.

During a protest outside the City Chambers recently, PACT for Autism called on council education bosses to involve them more in their children’s education.

They argue that because of the complexities of autism and the wide range of ‘triggers’ they face, they are best placed to advise on what they will cope with.

Glasgow City Council say that they work to respond to the needs of each child.

Ms Morgan, who represents families across Scotland , agreed: “More account needs to be taken of what the parents views are and their concerns.

“Some of the difficulty for parents is that they don’t get much detail in terms of the support that is going to be available in the new school.

“It can be a leap into the dark for them.”

She added: “Inclusion can be a great thing if done properly and done well.

“But some children are not being properly supported.

“Parents and children are not always clear about what is going to happen during period of transition.

“If the education authority could say, ‘you are going into mainstream and this is how it going to work - here is your support package and this is the transition programme’ as well as consulting with parents - I think parents would feel reassured and have more confidence in placing their child in a mainstream school, particularly during times of transition.”

Ms Morgan said: “There are a lot on anxieties for parents when a child with additional needs starts primary or secondary school.

“Some parents struggle to articulate their concerns.

“If a parent is not an effective advocate for their children, for whatever reason, this can be disadvantageous for the child.”

She added that, is some of the cases dealt with at the law centre, parents have raised concerns about autistic children being allowed to leave secondary schools unsupervised along with other pupils at lunch time.

Despite some parents raising fears that their child may be unable to safely negotiate traffic or vulnerable to strangers, she said: “Feedback from the parents is that the schools will not prohibit the children from leaving.”

The Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland consider appeals made by parents and young people against decisions of education authorities regarding the provision of educational support.

Their remit includes placing requests to special schools, transition and disability discrimination.