Severely autistic girl has to have hair washed in garden after Northampton school withdraws the service

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An severely autistic girl has to have her hair washed outside after her Northampton school withdrew the service, her mum says.

Bella Davide, aged eight, had her hair washed weekly by specialist staff at Fairfields School - a community special school in Kingsthorpe - for three years because her phobia of water meant she would resist and move around the room.

But the school has now removed the service, saying that it left staff too distressed and that it will not restrain Bella any longer. It has also restructured the classes so there is not the same level of specialised support for autism.

Mum Olivia, from Chapel Brampton, said: “This is absolutely not the fault of the brilliant Fairfields staff but, in my opinion, the structure now imposed by the school makes them not equipped to do what they did before.

“She has to have her hair washed in a wet room because she’s very strong and will not stay still. You have to follow her round with the water.

“What it means is that Bella has to have her hair washed in the garden. That’s doable in the summer holidays but it is horrible for her to go through that in the freezing cold.

“Nobody in all this time has been able to suggest an alternative. It’s so frustrating.”

Bella has attended Fairfields school since 2010.

The new rules were implemented at the beginning of the school year and Bella has had her hair washed outside every week since October 2015.

A statement issued by the school said: “As a school we acknowledge the difficulties parents have managing their children at home.

“We do however have a responsibility to ensure that our in-school practises are safe for both pupils and staff.

“To physically restrain a pupil who has an intolerance to hair wetting is incredibly traumatic and risky to the pupil and staff.

“The levels of risk increase as the pupil gets older, as a consequence we are working with the family and other agencies to find a way to increase the pupil’s tolerance to hair wetting rather than place either the pupil or staff at an unacceptable level of risk.