A recent post at Mommy Guilt shows that sometimes the ones who should be ⎯ and need to be ⎯ most aware are the most in need of a little education. It seems that something set off a six-year old autistic child in Hawaii, and he attacked a special-ed teacher. (At least that's the school's story, and I'm sure they're sticking to it.)
What could have set off the child? Who knows, but the school was obviously not particularly adept at working with autistic youngsters:
Ho’okena School, as well as the teacher and the District Superintendent are well aware of this child's violent outbursts. In the past, he was moved out of a summer school class because he attacked other students. Prior to jumping on his teacher, he was removed from his current classroom because the staff was worried he would hurt himself or others, and kept him in time-out from 10:55 a.m. until his mother picked him up at 2:00 p.m. The school has been asked repeatedly to at the very least provide a one-on-one aide that is trained in the art of dealing with autistic children, or move him to a school for autistic children.But all is okay (not). The school “contends they can handle him.” And how was the most recent incident handled? The police read the child his Miranda rights and he was arrested on Assault charges. Now what do you suppose was going through a six-year old autistic’s mind as that bizarre scene unfolded before him?
As for the teacher, she has obtained a Temporary Restraining Order against the mother and the child. Oh yes, that order will certainly stop a repeat incident.
Legal action will not do anything; this child needs assistance ⎯ from someone who understands the particular challenges facing an autistic child ⎯ to be able to get something of value from the educational system. In this case, the only one who understands this is the child’s mother:
I am at a loss as to what to do. I feel my son needs help, not punishment, and he needs it now, as the window of opportunity to help him is running out.And the school “contends they can handle him.” The child doesn’t need handling; the problems the child has need handling. But they can’t handle what they don’t understand.