Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

My Fear for James

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

My Fear for James

Article excerpt

Byline: Joanna Desira

A major police search was launched on Teesside after a vulnerable nine-year-old autistic boy went missing from his special school for two hours.

James Bliss was eventually found by officers nearly five miles away on the Haverton Hill road off the A19 near Portrack roundabout - but no one knows how he got there.

Furious parents Alison and Daniel have now withdrawn their son from Westlands Special School in Thornaby.

Cleveland Police, the school and Stockton Education Authority have launched investigations.

Mrs Bliss was already taking Stockton Education Authority to a tribunal in a bid to get James transferred to a special school in Sunderland, claiming Westlands had failed in its duty of care.

Mrs Bliss, 39, of Yarm, said James 'escaped' about 10.30am on Tuesday and was not found until 12.30pm.

It is feared he followed the A19 as heavy traffic roared past after escaping through broken doors at the school.

"We have withdrawn James because we are so distressed because the school has clearly failed in its duty of care," she said today.

"James is very distressed now.

"We don't even know how he got there. Has he been picked up by someone? His difficulties are so severe he has no way of telling us if someone had."

Mrs Bliss said part of James's autistic spectrum disorder was the fact he liked to run and be free.

"He likes to be physical and he likes to escape so he can be running and be free.

"It would not matter to him if he got into a stranger's car, he has no concept of danger and he has no fear.

"He has no significant language so he wouldn't understand what anyone was talking about. Adults have to protect him at all times."

James had been living at the school five days a week, returning home at weekends.

Last month he escaped from the school, on Eltham Crescent, and only got as far as a pub on the corner of the main road.

James has been at the school for two years, where he has been receiving one-to-one support, but his behaviour has been deteriorating since February. …

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