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Autistic children will be taken to therapy sessions

Enjoying trips: Paget Primary ASD students Exodus Somner and Rico Lambert at the Bermuda Royal Regiment (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Pupils on the autism spectrum disorder programme at a primary school have been guaranteed transport to therapy sessions at WindReach Bermuda.

The Department of Education hired a minibus for pupils of Paget Primary School after complaints about regular cancellations of Wednesday trips to WindReach because of mechanical issues with the department’s own bus.

Penny Ingram, parent advocate for the ASD programme, said: “I am very pleased that the ministry has committed to providing minibus transportation for the ASD programme students at Paget Primary.

“While I was not informed by the ministry directly, a teacher confirmed that the children were all smiles when told that they would be attending Wind- Reach on Wednesday as usual.

“This is now the second consecutive week that they have attended the WindReach programme and I am hopeful that the ministry will follow through with this.”

The Department acted after The Royal Gazette reported last week that the ministry’s bus was out of service.

That meant youngsters from the autism programme missed four of their scheduled trips to WindReach.

The education department sent an official to the school to discuss the problem and this week a hired minibus was used to get the youngsters to the special needs centre.

The official also told the school that the regular bus would be available every week from now until the end of term.

Ms Ingram said: “As for the repairs to the previous bus, I have no idea what the status of that is. I am very happy that the children are happy and that is all that I care about.”

Ms Ingram said that last-minute cancellations of the trip had upset the autism class, many of whom need a consistent routine.

WindReach volunteers were also affected by the no-shows as they turned up to assist with the class only to find out that the trips had been cancelled.

A spokeswoman for the education department said: “The school is aware that there is only one vehicle currently serving the students.”

The programme at Wind- Reach is a major part of the pupils’ educational programme.

Parents paid $300 a term for their children to attend therapy sessions at WindReach — that money will not be reimbursed.

The Department did not respond to a question on whether it would reimburse parents for the missed sessions.