And to think, it all started with this headline: "This Is Not OK-9 Year Old With Asperger's Syndrome Handcuffed."
You have to check this story out before reading further to understand what transpired here in Winnipeg, during a radio talk show on CJOB 68: Manitoba's Information Superstation.
The nine year old boy in the above story was bullied repeatedly through a period of time, and like anyone else, he finally blew up. While you and I may be able to reciprocate in a verbal argument and banter back and forth, children on the autism spectrum just can't do this. They lack the communication skills to make friends, never mind having to deal with banter and children who bully them. What makes this worse is that the adults responsible for this little boy continually allowed the bullying, not interfering or helping the little guy out. They are just as discriminating against this little boy as the kids who have bullied him. As a parent of child on the autism spectrum, I trust that my son's educators will provide a haven for my child, and protect him from discrimination, not encourage it!!! It is their job to teach ALL children to be respectful of others and accepting of diversity. I sure have to help Dayton with this on the home front, why should it not be expected to do so on the educational front?!
The whole drama of the child boarding himself up in a room using desks and splashing paint could have easily been avoided by the aid removing him from the situation and comforting him, then disciplining the rest of the children for bullying him. In fact, this all could have been prevented by not tolerating bullying in the first place! When there's an issue, the parent should be called first, not the police. My goodness... I'm sure the little guy is completely traumatized over the experience. This could have been Dayton, they're the same age...
Charles Adler of CJOB radio station took it a step further in discussing this case. Instead of inviting a professional to the talk show who specializes in autism spectrum disorders, this moron invited PARENTS of children with and without the disorder to duke it out on his show. I'd love to sit and have an interview with him. Perhaps I should give him a call. Actually, I think I will, right after I cut out a wooden paddle board and engrave "Lou's Board Of Education" on it.
To listen to the broad cast, click on the link below, scroll down to the bottom where the links begin and click on CJOB Am Audio Vault Charles Adler Program On Autism And Inclusion. The segment of the program begins at the 6 minute and 30 second point. It's not long, I promise. And you won't regret hearing it. While the first speaker, Ken, makes my blood boil, saying "I really do not want to have these kids in my son's daycare or in his school, umm, my son was attacked by a kid who had autism, and I don't want them around, I don't know what you do with them, but I don't want them..." If I met this guy Ken in person, I swear I'd shove my foot up his a$$. It's at times like this that I lose all sense of humanity, patience and forget about my Christianity. It's a struggle keeping the sixth commandment. And it's a struggle not to swear my head off and shout obscenities at people who are, lets face it, dumb asses. Anyway... the link: http://www.cosl.mb.ca/?p=1080
While I can appreciate that your child was struck with a child with autism, it is the responsibility of the child's assistant to be present and prevent this from happening in the first place. As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, I am mortified when I hear from the school that Dayton has struck a child, so please don't think I'm thrilled about someone getting hurt. But at the core of any child's behavior is a reason. Behavior is communication. This is why children on the spectrum have an aid to help them when it comes to communication with others. Furthermore, upon evaluating the situation and discussing it when this happens with Dayton, it turns out that Dayton either feels threatened, or is being bullied. When he can't fight back with words, he will strike out. So, if you don't teach your child NOT TO BULLY OR MAKE FUN OF SOMEONE, expect him to get beat up. And as far as "these kids," I really don't want my child to be around your kid, who has no respect for those who are challenged. So Ken, BITE ME.
Many families have been reported in contacting advocacy groups such as the Autism Society Of Manitoba (ASM), Manitoba Families For Effective Autism Treatment (MFEAT), and Asperger's Manitoba Inc. (AMI). These families were distraught about what they heard on the radio show, finding it offensive and handled with a complete lack of sensitivity.
Yes, hmmmm, what did the support groups have to say? Quite a lot actually. Here's a letter they got together to write to the head honcho of the radio station... http://www.mbteach.org/COSL/COSL51/Letter%20from%20Asperger%20Manitoba%20in%20response%20to%20the%20Charles%20Adler%20program%20segment%20on%20Autism%20and%20Inclusion.pdf
Now, while I may be fuming over how Ken and Mary bantered back and forth in the beginning of Charles Adler's radio talk show, I do have to agree with some of what was said in the segment. Many families with children on the autism spectrum, including myself, agree that "inclusion" is not working well. It is not working because our kids are not really given a fair chance. Teachers and assistants are not properly trained or educated in order to adequately "include" our kids. In the same breath, is it really appropriate for us as parents of children on the autism spectrum to demand our educators to get years of extra training? Would it take years? I'm not sure, but I know that at this stage, our educators and assistants are not mandated to take extra training on autism... Who's responsibility is it to ensure that educators are trained properly? The government mandated "inclusion," yet hasn't given our educators the tools and know how to do their job. While I am grateful for "inclusion" and not having my babe dropped off at a building for the rejects, I also think that if the government is not prepared to give money to empower our educators to educate our children, then perhaps segregating our children in a school with professionals that are trained to teach our children should be looked at.
As much as my heart breaks in admitting this, my babe has interrupted his classroom with his fits that stem from not being understood, or frustration at not understanding his school work and feeling dumb. It's not fair to him or the rest of his classmates. It's just not fair... I want more for my child, and I know that given the tools, my son could learn and be a contributing member of society. Why is this too much to ask for?
Consider yourselves hugged,