Having an autistic child is not the end of the world--far from it. It is my hope that through this blog, at least a handful of people will get to understand that. My child is amazing, she brings us tremendous joy. We have good days & bad days, but we CHOOSE to focus on the good. Our belief is that by loving our daughter, giving her the most comfortable environment we can, and by most of all accepting her differences, she will continue to blossom--in her OWN way.


Society's Sad State

I was reading Odd One Out in the days immediately following Alex Barton's reprehensible ousting from his first grade class (a la Survivor). I was so deeply affected by the post on this inexcusable act. Primarily on the comments that Lastcrazyhorn had compiled and was writing on. I was outraged and then very saddened by the bias and ignorance I was seeing. Suggestions like this child just needed some discipline, or that his behaviors were due to poor parenting, or commending this teacher for bringing order back into the classroom, honestly make me wonder what country we live in and exactly what year it is.

The case of Alex Barton has done two things. For one, it has brought Autism, inclusion and mainstreaming, and special education into the public eye (at least temporarily). All the major news stations covered the story in some form or fashion. Furthermore, the story has brought bloggers together all across the world. I've seen bloggers who have no connection to autism writing on it; others whom I have many disagreements with are just as passionate about this child's rights. It's been amazing to see us, once again, all come together to make change. We do have to remember that this is far from over--both for Alex and for the rest of our children. So, we need to keep writing those in the government and making our voices heard.

The other thing this case in particular has done is clearly brought forward how a great many in society truly feel about autistic individuals: put them away. The vast majority of us parents speak about how relieved we are to be living in a day where we do raise our children. Gone are the days that we are forced to (or strongly advised by our physicians and others we trusted) institutionalize our children (well, in most cases: please read about Nate Tseglin). However, it seems that a number of people would prefer we do just that. They don't want our kids interfering with their child's education. They speak of our kids as if they have some rancid, contagious disease. One that if our kids area allowed in their child's classroom, will seep through and infect the whole school. They claim it's unfair for their child to be in a room with our child. Unfair? Why? Because our child may help your child learn about tolerance and acceptance? Because they may learn to not judge a book by its cover, once they get to know our child? I'm sorry those lessons are so appalling to these parents.

I hate to break it to you who think my child will so horribly disrupt your child's education that she should be dumped somewhere else: my kid isn't the only one having issues in class. Have any of you spent time in a public school classroom? In Vanillaville, USA, you are going to see a SPECTRUM of children in any given room. You will have kids of varying intelligence and skill sets, children who have learning disabilities, health issues, and those that are gifted. You are going to have kids who are poor, kids who are rich, and all those in between. There are going to be adopted kids, foster kids, kids whose parents are divorced, and so on. You may want to point the finger at my child and say she is the one affecting your child's education--but really, can you prove that none of those other children do?

My oldest child is in fact labeled "gifted and talented" based on an evaluation (IQ score, plus various tests of knowledge and ability). She is in a classroom with children of varying abilities, and all those differences I mention above. Do I sit and whine that any of those kids is disrupting my kid's education? No. She is in public school, that's all part of it. She does have a few children in her classroom that receive special ed services. I've witnessed a meltdown by one of her peers, another child who is literally unable to sit still, and another who has significant trouble with reading. Shall I begin a protest to take these students out of my child's class? I would never. School should be a place where children learn to be good citizens. That is still a part of today's lesson plans, right? I want my daughter to acknowledge and accept children who are different from her. I don't want my daughter to judge a peer based on their skin color, family situation, physical appearance, or so-called "behaviors" ala Autism.

If you feel that my autistic child, or any other autistic, disabled, or different kid is so horribly affecting your child's education, guess what? You have a choice. Go to private school. I'm sure there are some better-suited schools out there--you know, ones where only blue-eyed, blonde-haired, strong, "neurotypical" children are accepted (I wonder if there are any schools who support a program like T4, that may be more your liking). People will say I'm crossing a line, that these views of society in 2008 are nothing like Hitler. I beg to differ. I think many would agree that if and when a prenatal genetic screening for autism is available, abortion will become common place, as in the case of Down Syndrome. We have professors speaking--and smiling--at universities, about eugenics.

This is the state of our society today. In this country, it is touted that we are the land of the free, and that each citizen has the same civil and human rights. This is not the case when it comes to disabled persons. What have we learned from history? Why are so many unwilling to give our children and autistic adults a shot? Why is there such intolerance and ignorance? It is my hope that through Alex Barton's horrible experience (and, sadly, many others) that a dialogue can begin. I want real change, for my child, for the many other individuals I've come to know on this journey. I can only hope that society is ready to listen.

1 comment:

Davina said...

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