Sunday, March 04, 2007


Like other members of the so-called “curebie” camp, I sometimes roll my eyes when I hear about “autism awareness.” I feel like I’m about as aware of the problem as I ever want to be, and that certainly the world at large must be “getting it” by now. Sadly, not everyone in the world gets it, and maybe a little awareness training is still needed out there.

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.


Blogger mommyguilt said...

Wade, thanks for the re-post. I'm trying to get this to as many eyes as possible. I've posted it on my ChicagoParent site (I'll post that link on MG, soon), on my myspace site, and hopefully many others will continue to repost.

I'm just sickened, really. People can argue about what Autism is and what to do about it, but this certainly proves the point that education is definitely needed because those who are interacting with our children need to understand them as their parents do, not just as a loving parent, but as individuals blanketed with the term "disorder".

3/4/07, 6:52 PM  
Blogger LIVSPARENTS said...

A six year old ARRESTED? The kid don't even know CARMEN Miranda, let alone his rights!

Teacher: Now sit down Johnny, while we all sing Tiny Bubbles all together once again.

Johnny: But I don't LIKE that song and I HATE sitting in a circle holding hands. The music is too much for me and I don't like other people touching me!

Teacher: Stop being difficult or I'll send you to the principle again.

Hey is there a newstory online somewhere on this? I'd like to get 100 angry autistic parents calling up every senator and congressman on the 'Big Island'...

3/6/07, 9:40 PM  
Blogger Wade Rankin said...


One of the Hawaiian television stations had the story on their site just a few days ago, but it was removed without explanation. I've been waiting for the media to pick it up, but I guess they're all too busy with Anna Nicole Smith's funeral.

3/6/07, 10:14 PM  
Blogger LIVSPARENTS said...

Got a link, hopefully it comes through:

Had a heckuva time googleing it, I think I did something like 'Kona' and 'arrested' or something like that...

3/7/07, 4:32 PM  
Blogger Ian Parker said...

Arrested?!? Okay, this is just scary. Yes, six year olds shouldn't go around attacking people, but did it not occur to anyone there that maybe there is a reason for certain behaviours, and that the way to deal with them is to help the child to communicate and to find the stressors and manage/eliminate them? And knowing that there were issues, they still couldn't provide an aide?

So does Hawaii have 'three strikes' legislation? (Only half kidding) Gee, one more bite and a missing juice box and they could settle this once and for all. Bizarre.

3/7/07, 6:58 PM  
Blogger kristina said...

I've been wondering why this was not picked up by more news sources---too bad to be true, alas.

3/8/07, 11:06 PM  
Blogger LIVSPARENTS said...

If you notice, no where in the news story is the term 'autism' used. At 6 years old, you'd think they'd do a deeper dive into why this happenned...

3/9/07, 11:18 AM  
Blogger MOTHER OF MANY said...

It sounds so unreal a situation you just cannot believe it is true.

3/10/07, 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I parent of a child who has autism and lives in Hawaii I can tell you that children with autism are dealt with horribly in this state. Two years ago, another autistic 6 year old was taken away by the police during his birthday party!! (My daughter was a student in his class.) I am not making this up. His mother was serving in Iraq and had to come home to deal with the problem. The state ended up paying them $50,000 in damages. The only children with autism who get FAPE in Hawaii are children who have parents that fight in court. If the parents don't have the resources to fight in court our children are basically not educated. KT

4/4/07, 12:55 AM  

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