Help for Ballarat's kids in the middle

By Tom McIlroy
Updated November 2 2012 - 5:19am, first published April 20 2011 - 2:13am
ON A MISSION: Frances McKay with children Jayde and Michael.

FRANCES McKay is a woman on a mission. With two children who suffer from Asperger's syndrome, Ms McKay says she wants help for every child "stuck in the middle". Her son Michael, 13, and daughter Jayde, 7, both suffer from the autism spectrum disorder which causes them significant difficulties in social interaction and education. She says Michael, who is currently in year 8, has an IQ too high to be enrolled in specialist education, but too low to be able to study alongside his peers. "His school teachers do their best but many don't understand Michael's disability so don't know how to deal with him," Ms McKay said. "Some have been very unhelpful and don't seem to care about his special needs."She says Michael, like many other children, are stuck in the middle without help for their disabilities. Along with partner Sally Miller, Ms McKay has established a support group on social networking website Facebook and is calling for a new school to be established for children like Michael. The group, called Help for Kids Who Are in the Middle, already has more than 50 members who keep in regular contact and support each other. Parents and friends of school children in and around Ballarat with Asperger's syndrome come to the page to write about their struggles and successes. "We didn't know where else to turn and the group has been a great help for us and all the other parents," Ms McKay said. One group member recently posted a comment on the group's page calling for a solution to be found for children in the middle. "There has to be a happy medium where children with learning disorders can attend a school that caters for their individual abilities and disabilities." Ms McKay, currently completing a diploma in disability and community services at the University of Ballarat's SMB campus, has met with local representatives and educational providers but says a solution is needed soon. Visit the group and show your support: search for Help for Kids Who Are in the Middle at

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