A Powys family has said the lack of support for their family with additional learning needs has drastically impacted their careers in the police and the NHS.

Mark and Karley Lewis have been in a years long battle to get the support for their two sons - Elliot, 9 and Oliver, 4 – leading them to have to change or leave jobs.

Oliver is autistic and non-verbal but even so it it was several years before he received help.

“Our youngest does have support, that took a couple of years of me constantly emailing, calling, making sure that people were doing what they were supposed to,” said Karley.

READ MORE: Parents and politicians seek 'urgent review' of learning support needs in Powys

“I was often met with well there’s plenty of time, all very blasé."

County Times:

The couple remain in a battle to get support for, Elliot, who has less obvious symptoms.

“Because his autism isn’t in your face it seems to be a lot more difficult to get help with,” said Mark.

“We had to move out of one school and put him another just to make sure that he was being identified as being need of help.

“The new school are lot better. But getting the assessments done and getting the IDPs in place is just a nightmare. It has cost us just under £1,000 to get him privately assessed to get the support he needs in school, we are just worried when he goes to high school he is just going to be lost.”


Karley added: “He is anxious all the time, he needs to be in a more specialist setting. It wasn’t until he was five or six we had seen big problems.

“You almost need your child to act out in school for them to actually do anything, we’ve been forced to actually film his behaviour discreetly.”

The battle has had a huge impact on the couple’s lives.

“I was working in the NHS up until a year and half ago but had to quit,” said Karley.

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“I had to take six weeks off for the summer holidays because of the stress and strain it was putting on me.

“I couldn’t hold down a job and be a parent carer for two highly autistic children I was just burnt out. I struggle with it mentally a lot some days, I just think I don’t know how we are going to do this.

“They don’t sleep, and you are woken up through them screaming and shouting so it fills you with anxiety.”

Mark has also had to move to a new role within the police

“I have gone from a frontline officer doing shift work to being a divisional trainer which is rewarding but I have had to do that role because Karley was struggling so much with it all," he said.

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“I was 15 years as a police it was a blow initially but I am glad I have made that change.

“We fully understand that Local authority needs to be able to justify budgets and they need to allocate their spending correctly but neurodiversity is such a huge proportion of todays society with it being caught much more and it is though the local authorities are behind the times.”

A spokesperson for Powys County Council said: “We are providing a programme of professional development to deliver the new ALN system.”

A spokesperson for Powys Teaching Health Board said:  "At a meeting of Powys Teaching Health Board on 20 March 2024 we discussed our priorities and plans for the year ahead. Improvements to the neurodevelopmental assessment pathway, and a multi-agency strategy for Additional Learning Needs in Powys have been identified as priority actions for 2024/25.”