I received this comment by Eric (you can watch the interview here):
"This child needs special attention for his disability- he should not be in a class room with children of a normal performing level. After reviewing the interview from "The Early Show" http://www.breitbart.tv/html/103693.html the child looks extremely disruptive and probably is a distraction in class. Placing those with disruptive disabilities in normal classrooms detracts from everyone else's education and occupies too much of the teachers time. The classroom is better off without him."
Yes, he does need special attention. His mother was meeting with school officials, this teacher included, to make such provisions. From what I understand, he had an IEP in place, and most likely a BIP (and if not, the school was indeed failing him well before Wendy Portillo's disgraceful actions). He should be in a class with "children of a normal performing level" (whatever that is in kindergarten!). For one, it is the law. Alex, just like my child, just like your child, has rights. You're not saying that autistic people don't deserve the same rights as other citizens, are you? Please read about Least Restrictive Environment, and perhaps you'll better understand why Alex deserves to be in this class. A side note, when you say "normal performing level," I wonder what that means. Are you talking about behavior, academics, or IQ? Odds are, Alex has a rather high IQ and is very capable of keeping up with (or soaring past even) his peers in academics (when the right supports are in place). What would be your definition of "normal performing level," do you have a specific criteria a child must meet before being allowed in a classroom?
I watched the interview. Can you tell me exactly which behaviors were so deplorable that Alex should not be in his classroom? You state he "looks extremely disruptive." Really? I can't imagine how my eldest (the gifted one, remember) would act in front of a camera. Actually, I bet she'd act out in ways I'd be mortified about! I don't even think I could get my youngest to sit on my lap or be anywhere near the camera crew and those spotlights (to which I greatly applaud Alex!). You can't base how a child acts, in front of bright lights with odd sounds and such. I personally did not see any behaviors indicative of Alex being a nuisance in class. Perhaps it's because I spend 24 hours a day with two very quirky kids, but I saw an inquisitive child. He didn't seem much different than any other child I've seen on T.V. while his parent is being interviewed.
With regard to the behaviors of this child in school, no one denies that Alex wasn't having difficulties. That is part of autism, at least for every autistic child I know. There are steps in place for schools to help a child with this. IEP's and BIP's help, as does open communication with teachers, counselors, and therapists. It sounds like not all was being done to help Alex, that could be done. I sincerely hope that now that he has an official diagnosis, steps will be taken to help him out. He may benefit from having a para or other support services.
How would you define "disruptive disabilities?" Is it just the autistic children? A child with ADHD? Does this include a child in a wheelchair? A child who stutters? The child with emotional issues due to their home life? I have actually seen so-called "neurotypical" children in the classroom be more "disruptive" (although I feel that word is rather harsh) than an autistic child. A child with ADHD may have a hard time focusing or sitting still. Yet, I don't think anyone would suggest placing a child with ADHD into a special education class. A child in a wheelchair may require more time going to and from the classroom, and certain class activities may need to be adjusted to accommodate his/her needs. The child who stutters will take longer to read a sentence aloud. A child with emotional issues may get into fights, may have trouble concentrating, may cry or act out. Would you argue as strongly for those children to be in a separate classroom as you do for Alex (and apparently all autistic children)? In any given classroom, there's plenty of distraction. It's not just Alex or my kid who may require more of the teacher's time on any given day.
The last sentence is the one that really felt like a punch in the gut. The idea that Alex's classroom or any other autistic kid's class is "better off without him" is so disturbing. It is the same barbaric mindset that once institutionalized our children, giving them no hope of any type of life, our kids were seen as having no value. This same senseless thinking leads to these very crimes, and disgusting preaching like this. This is why we fight, this is why we are so passionate, this is why we rally. Until society sees our children as human beings, as individuals with the same rights as anyone else, and accepts them for who they are, we will not be silent.
Another reply I received:
"anon So, lets see here, this little kid in Florida was being a t*rd and the rest of the kids voted him out of the class? whats the big deal? He's probably the same kid who gets picked last or doesnt get picked at all for any team sports. It's amusing to see the mothers cry out in harmonic outrage for their little precious bundles of stupid reject. Your kids are t*rds. Deal with it"This comment deserves no response, and therefore I won't give it any justification. I do want to have it up here, just so that those people who may be unaware of what we, what our children, what autistic individuals, and what disabled citizens face day in and day out. These hateful, ignorant viewpoints are everywhere. Prejudice is very real in our world.