The Utter Indignation Caused by Illegal Exclusion of Autistic Children
The rage one feels swell in his or her chest as time and again one's autistic child is sent home early from a mainstream school is hard to describe but felt equally by all parents. Parents know that autistic children are not as easy to deal with and have certain needs a teacher and classroom must cater to, specific accommodations that must be made. It becomes frustrating when schools fail to comply and have parents absolutely livid when they illegally exclude autistic children from school activities.
Where is this rant originating from now? Yesterday's news sources quite simply presented the cold facts. According to Sky News, two in every five students on the spectrum in the United Kingdom were subjected to informal, and therefore illegal, exclusions. That's about one in every 2.5 autistic children who are mistreated and have their educational rights violated.
How are schools violating these rights?
- Asking parents to pick up children earlier than normal
- Asking parents to refrain from bringing children to school on a certain day
- Having children attend lessons only part-time
- Excusing children from school trips
All of these are offenses that as a teacher I cannot accept. How dare any individual or school body take it upon themselves to break the law and refuse proper education to certain children, discriminating not against gender or race, but against mental capacities. Needless to say, just because one is on the spectrum does not mean that they are any less in terms of intelligence or ability to learn in school. On the contrary, certain factors like their intense focus and artistic or numerical abilities often make them the smartest in their class. I will agree that stimming in the classroom could be both distracting and sometimes exasperating. However, a teacher's job entails teaching every child to the best of their abilities, catering to their needs and accommodating where necessary.
Research by Ambitious About Autism, which campaigns on behalf of autistic children and young people, found that since there are about as around 70,785 children on the spectrum, this could mean as many as 28,000 illegal exclusions. These numbers have been estimated after looking into data based on a sample study of 500 families, 1,000 school staff and 92 local authorities.
Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, said: "It is shocking so many children with autism are missing out on education. All schools are legally bound to provide quality full-time education to all pupils, including children with autism." It is indeed shocking and utterly distressing. Too many cases exist around the world, including both Canada and Armenia (two places where I have lived), where children with disabilities or those on the spectrum are left out. Notice that I do not consider autism a disability. I agree that autistic individuals may have certain handicaps, but autism in itself is merely a genetic miscommunication or hypercommunication of brain cells. The difference is apparent between males and females as well, with behavioral clues attesting to gender-based theories.
It would be prudent to point out a rather interesting fact.The report providing the abovementioned information also notes that while over seven in 10 (71%) of autistic children are in mainstream schools, around 60% of teachers in England say they do not feel they have had enough training to teach pupils on the spectrum. This is probably wherein the problem lies. Teachers should be trained from college to include all students, modifying and accommodating their lessons and classroom atmosphere to ensure everyone entrusted into their care is treated as best as possible.
This is my utter indignation caused by the illegal exclusion of autistic children from mainstream schools across the UK and other countries.