Thursday, June 19, 2008

What Parents of Special Needs Kids Worry About

We all hear the stories of sexual abuse, and unfortunately, it happens too often. Parents of autistic children in particular worry about this because the child, if he or she is non-verbal, can't express what happened. So this story (via John Hawkins) is particularly egregious:

Leduc's weird tale began on May 30, when she dropped young Victoria off for class at Terry Fox Elementary and headed in to work, only to receive a frantic phone call from the school telling her it was urgent she come back right away.

The frightened mother rushed back to the campus and was stunned by what she heard - the principal, vice-principal and her daughter's teacher were all waiting for her in the office, telling her they'd received allegations that Victoria had been the victim of sexual abuse - and that the CAS had been notified.

How did they come by such startling knowledge? Leduc was incredulous as they poured out their story.

"The teacher looked and me and said: 'We have to tell you something. The educational assistant who works with Victoria went to see a psychic last night, and the psychic asked the educational assistant at that particular time if she works with a little girl by the name of "V." And she said 'yes, I do.' And she said, 'well, you need to know that that child is being sexually abused by a man between the ages of 23 and 26.'"

Victoria, who is non-verbal, had also been exhibiting sexualized behaviour in class, actions which are known to be typical of autistic behavior. (See other typical actions here) That lead authorities to suspect she had a bladder infection that may have somehow been related to the 'attack.'

Leduc was shaken by the idea. "It's actually your worst nightmare your child being violated," she admits. "So for them to even suggest that, and that be my worst nightmare, it was horrific."

So, then, the mother is investigated by CPS, but thankfully she had proof to back herself up. She bought a GPS system that records, non-stop, all sounds around the child because the school had "lost" her child a couple times.

A psychic? You'd be surprised, right, but you've dealt with the public school system or heard the stories, so nothing is shocking. The teacher won't be fired. The assistant teacher won't be fired. The principal won't be fired. The school district won't pay for the education the child needs.

The school district will dedicate its resources to defend against this woman's lawsuit when the same amount of money, or less, could help her child. You see, the policy is to deny, deny, deny, because if they help one child, they'd have to help them all. So no children will get adequately helped, or will get the bare minimum of assistance and it will be couched in ARDs as the "least restrictive environment" which is code for--we don't want to pay. And parents have no choice. They're stuck. Private schools are under no obligation to take on a special needs child. And the private schools that specialize in helping these kids are expensive.

John says, "If we had a voucher system, Colleen Leduc could simply send her kid to a private school that isn't run by complete morons." Well, the money would be a start. Public schools are woefully deficient at dealing with these children. It's a problem nationally. There simply just isn't the training or desire to be trained to deal with children outside the mean.

I've been to continuing ed seminars for teachers dealing with autism. The level of apathy among the teachers was appalling. The parents in attendance, took it all in. In fact, while the teachers ignored the speaker (who happened to be one of the brightest thinkers and a leader in autism education), I was learning and went home and taught my son how to speak that week. The information was good, but you can't teach someone who thinks she knows everything or who just doesn't care.

And out there, there are amazing teachers, wonderful teachers who are underpaid, overworked and unappreciated. That's the problem with public education. A teacher can phone it in or can work and care, she gets paid the same. She can be dull-witted and show zero judgment and still get paid. It's almost impossible for her to get fired.

What a mess. On the word of a stupid assistant teacher's psychic, a woman and her child can be completely traumatized, meanwhile, there's the little problem of the child not being educated.

2 comments:

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