A SINGLE mum of three severely autistic children says Newport City Council has failed to offer her family adequate support despite being “begged and begged for help” since 2015.

Laksuma Begum says she feels “more like a care-giver than a mother” to her children, and the unceasing demands of looking after them unsupported are pushing her to breaking point.

She dreams of being able to do normal family activities with her three sons but feels unable to do so without professional support.

Her sons all have nonverbal autism and are unable to communicate with her. They are all in special education in Ysgol Bryn Derw or in Pillgwenlly Primary School.


Ms Begum works as supply cover in secondary education, and spends a sizeable amount of her salary on a privately-hired babysitter, who visits once a week to help ease the pressures at home.

Speaking to the South Wales Argus, Ms Begum said she had repeatedly requested social services’ help to care for her children, but was told each time – to her surprise – that no such role existed.

Her eldest son, aged nine, is habitually violent towards the other two children, hitting and biting them. Ms Begum spends so much of her time trying to calm him down, she is unable to watch the other two properly, leaving them to cause chaos in the house.

This week, fearing for the safety of her two youngest sons, Ms Begum had to call the police to help her restrain the eldest child.

She also contacted the office of the children’s commissioner for Wales to complain about the council’s treatment of her family.

And while the council responded by sending a social services manager to her home, Ms Begum – who first contacted the city’s Disabled Children’s Team in early 2015 – cannot understand why adequate offers of support haven’t arrived sooner.

“Why has it taken so long to get to this point?” she asked.

She said she initially asked social services to provide 10 hours of care each week, but was told that wasn’t possible.

The family has since undergone three separate six-month ‘assessment periods’, she said – including one simply because her marriage broken down, meaning a “change in family circumstances”.

Once, a social worker was provided. “She was great, she was fighting for me,” Ms Begum said.

But when that social worker left, it was months until a replacement was assigned, and that replacement insisted on a fresh six-month assessment period before any support plan could be put in place.

South Wales Argus: Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.ukPicture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

Following complaints by Ms Begum in late 2018, her two eldest children were offered two nights’ respite each month, but Ms Begum said this only lasted one month before the centre closed down.

She said her children hadn’t been offered places at another centre.

Ms Begum said she hadn’t been able to spend quality time with her children in years.

“My dream is to take my children swimming, but I can’t,” she said.

Ms Begum said people admired her for bringing up three disabled children on her own. But she said this ‘supermum’ image was damaging, because she was being “pushed beyond [her] boundaries”, and the lack of professional support was “causing direct harm” to her family and impeding her children’s development.

“I want to raise awareness [for] every family going through even a fraction of what I'm going through," Ms Begum said.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the local authority said: "Newport City Council is sympathetic to the concerns raised by this family and a social worker has been working with the parent for many months to help alleviate the concerns raised.

"However it is not council policy to comment on individual cases, especially when young children are concerned.

"The council does recognise that respite care is extremely important for families and this is provided along with a range of other support services from the local authority along with other organisations."