About Me

A couple of years ago, I found my autistic child locked in a small cold cement cell at his school. The cell had no windows, no furniture, and was slate gray with low lighting. The cell was also sound proofed so parents and teachers outside wouldn’t hear him crying. I am writing this blog as a campaign to change the way these children are perceived and treated in our society.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Finding the Right Educational Path for an Autistic Child

As I mentioned before, I really appreciate the effort and concern the teachers from the school that my son is going to currently, but I still find that we are coming from different philosophies. 
In order to better explain my view, let me tell you about a TV special that I saw a long time ago about a young man with severe learning disabilities.  In the show, it showed the primary care give (I don’t remeber if it was his mother, maybe his aunt or grandmother) pushing the child to graduate from high school.  The show was all about what an amazing job she did getting this child to graduate when all of the experts said that she couldn’t … sounds great, right?  But then it shows her getting him ready in the morning, and as he is trying to button his shirt, she is slapping his hands away and buttoning it for him.  And every other screen that it shows the two of them together, it shows her pushing him and leaning on him, either in a psychological fashion or actually physically handling him.  The young man, now around nineteen, so obviously tries to do anything to please her, but it was also obvious that what she was pushing him to do was extremely difficult for him.  So he graduates from high school, but at what cost?  And to what benefit?  Will it really help him that much in his life?  Is an employer really that much more likely to hire someone with obvious mental limitations simply because they have a high school diploma?
 We have all seen the stereotype of the aggressive father who pushes his son to play football.  The child is trying his absolute hardest, but nothing is good enough for the father short of his son becoming the next super sports star.  This steretype of this father is used as a warning to parents not to be to hard on their children ... yet it seems that no one has a problem with pushing children with limited mental abilities, pushing them to the point of them crying every day.
So, as I watch these requirements being placed on my son, sometimes I have to wonder, are the schools systems simply expecting WAY TOO MUCH from my child?  Especially, I feel this way as he is constantly reading educational books and going on line to research topics with any spare time he has.  I have no doubt that the child loves to learn, he is just interested in what he is interested in.  He is not good a jumping through the school’s hoops.  He is not good at taking their standardized tests, he hates them.  He would rather be spending his time studying new subjects then to have them test him on math questions that nobody ever showed him how to do.  It makes no sense to him to be tested on material that he has not learned … In other words, he is perfectly able to learn, he is just not good at following the exact path that the school wants him to.
Right now, my son is having a hard time writing a personal narrative.  Fortunately, I worked out a system with the school that if he is having difficulty with an assignment, they send it home to me and I will work on it with him in a more comfortable environment.  This seems to work pretty well, so I am hoping for some success … but I still wonder why it is soooooo important that this particular assingment is done.
What do you think?  Do you have an autistic child that you feel is being pushed too hard to conform?  Please comment and let me know your thoughts!   

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