Autistic Auckland boy left in the cold after multiple exclusions

A 10-year-old Auckland boy with autism is stuck at home after being excluded from three schools in the past five years.

Advocates say he's just one of hundreds of students living with autism being let down by the education system.

When 10-year-old Ethan Forbes enjoys something he becomes fixated. Right now, he's into Lego. 

He's a smart kid but has a particular way of doing things. 

"People were telling me to do two things at once and basically I only like to do one thing," he told Newshub.

Sensory overload can lead to frustration and he can be difficult to control.

Earlier this month he was told to leave his third school in five years because of behavioral problems.

"The system doesn't cater for these kids but there are so many of them out there and parents are screaming for help," his mother Alex Forbes told Newshub.

Autism NZ CEO Dane Dougan says hundreds, possibly thousands of children and parents are in a similar situation, and the numbers are growing all the time.

"We fully understand it is difficult for teachers and we are not putting any blame on them at all, we're saying is the issue is how do we get the environment right so these kids can thrive in school like everybody else," he told Newshub.

The Ministry of Education says Ethan is receiving intensive help with a full-time teacher aide, a specialist teacher and three psychologists, and say they've been working with him since he was a toddler.

The Ministry also says it spent $600 million on learning support for children with special needs over the past year.

Autism NZ is calling for the Ministry to collect data on the number of students who have autism so schools are properly resourced and there are fewer exclusions.

"So how do we solve all those things so the child gets a rich experience and the other kids in the class get a good experience as well... so it starts with training and the second step is more resources," Mr Dougan said.

Ms Forbes says it's important to Ethan's development that he's in a classroom.

"We should be more aware of what the triggers are for these children and ways to calm them down or de-escalate the situation," she said.

"He deserves to go to school. The more you can treat him like a 10-year-old boy, the more he'll act like a 10-year-old boy."

Ethan says he just wants to get back to school to see his friends, but that's unlikely to happen soon.