A BARNSLEY mum who says the pressure of raising an autistic son ‘nearly broke her’ has launched a group that offers support to other families with special needs children.

Kerry Thompson says her seven-year-old son William’s condition got so bad that taxi drivers refused to drive him and hairdressers were reluctant to cut his hair.

Kerry, of Baden Street, Worsbrough, said: "It was horrendous, particularly when he was three or four. People would look at me like I was a bad parent or that he was a spoilt child, it nearly broke me and I couldn’t cope.

"He would go hysterical at the hairdresser's and start crying and shaking so I had to shave his head at home until he was seven. He couldn’t understand why mum and dad would take him to someone to cut his hair off so we’d have to pin him down at home.

"He’d lay on the floor at bus stops and then climb all over the seats on the bus before letting out an ear-piercing scream.

"We gave that up so started taking taxis but some of the drivers wouldn’t pick him up due to his scream, while one time he opened a taxi door whilst we were driving along Sheffield Road. We eventually had to buy a car."

Kerry, who has two other children, says there was little support for her and decided to take matters into her own hands and launched Barnsley Little Stars, a group that offers support and advice for families of special needs children.

Kerry, who is the voluntary co-chairman of the organisation, said: "William is much better now, he’s in mainstream school, at Hoyland Common Primary, and has really improved. But there are many parents out there who don’t know what to do.

"We’ve had families come in and break down crying because they can’t cope but after a few weeks they’ve got big smiles on their faces as they’ve met with like-minded people.

"We hope to launch as an official charity shortly and then we can start applying for grants."