A MOTHER who cared for her “suicidal autistic child” without support for more than 18 months has received a council payout after a watchdog ruled the authority had not followed correct procedures in dealing with her complaints.

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) found Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) had not properly considered the mother’s issues after she raised concerns about the way the authority responded to her requests for help.

This comes after a report from the LGO indicated the mother, who has been anonymised, applied for a carer’s assessment for her son more than three years ago.

Her son, who has autism, had been admitted to hospital on “multiple occasions” due to attempts to harm himself.

READ MORE: LGO records increase in complaints against Bracknell Forest Council

Despite being given a ‘child in need’ plan to support the family, BFC refused the mother’s request for support from its children’s specialist services team, which typically provides more support than mainstream services.

The lack of a carer’s assessment sparked a complaint from the mother, who was eventually offered one some months later.

Despite this, the complaint was taken to the next stage and the council agreed:

  • Its explanation for its failure to undertake the assessment appears “fabricated”
  • The explanation for the refusal “did not comply with the law”
  • Failed to consider the child’s mental health when considering the support they needed
  • It failed to acknowledge its staff members’ lack of awareness of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • It incorrectly said the mother did not want support when in fact they were not offered.

The council apologised for these mistakes, confirming it would provide training to staff on ASD.

READ MORE: LGO says special needs complaint should have been investigated by the council

But another complaint followed in July 2019 in which the mother sought compensation from the council as she was “the sole carer for 83 weeks to a ‘suicidal autistic child’ with no support despite requesting a carer’s assessment.”

She also claimed the council discriminated against her child because he had a disability but had no education, health and care plan or special schooling.

A string of other grievances were also included in the complaint, such as the allegation the council was negligent due to staff “having no training or knowledge of autism”.

In response, the council apologised again and offered a £250 goodwill payment and reviewed its ASD training, but did not escalate the complaint, prompting the mother to complain to the LGO.

After investigating the complaint, the LGO found the council failed to follow the statutory children’s complaints procedure, causing the mother injustice.

READ MORE: LGO finds mum left in 'avoidable frustration' following council battle

The watchdog recommended BFC pays the family £350 and sends a letter to the mother responding to the new complaints she made in July 2019.

Sonia Johnson, a BFC Children’s Social Care boss, said: “Bracknell Forest Council welcomes the opportunity to work with the Ombudsman to improve residents’ experiences of our services and strives to support all children, young people and their families.

“I can confirm we have prioritised staff training on autistic spectrum disorder and have complied with the Ombudsman’s suggestion in relation to this case.”