Sunday, November 05, 2006

Stop Blaming Autistic Children for Being Autistic

A recent report in the UK points out that children with autism in Scottish schools are still thought of as having discipline problems rather than a neurological disorder with communication, emotional and sometimes intellectual deficits that result in behavioral problems.

"Teachers in mainstream schools in Scotland are still identifying some children with autism as being indisciplined rather than having a communication disorder according to a report. School inspectors said a minority of staff demonstrated "a lack of understanding" of the condition by seeing pupils' difficulties as "bad behaviour".

The report also goes on to state that "too often, children and young people with autism are placed in inappropriate schools, with teaching staff who don't have relevant training in the disability and in an environment that doesn't meet their needs".

The same problem occurs in New Brunswick schools although we are unlikely to get a report to that effect; at least not from our Department of Education which is proud of its policy of mainstream classroom inclusion for all students regardless of whether the classroom environment suits all children. Some autistic children benefit from a classroom education but some do not. When those who are easily overwhelmed by too much environmental stimulation such as sounds, movements etc, have a meltdown and engage in self aggression or loud disruptive behaviour the children themselves are blamed. They are sent on time outs. The teachers involved often do not know that for some autistic children, frustrated in the classroom, a time out may be what they are seeking - on a full time basis.

It is time that the New Brunswick Department of Education stop promoting mainstream classroom inclusion as a benefit for all students. For some autistic students it is not. They are overwhelmed and the classroom results in negative behaviour including serious self injury. It is time to stop blaming them for being autistic and start admitting that the mainstream classroom can actually be a harmful environment for some autistic children.


Anonymous said...

Harold, have you seen these recent news releases that link tv with autism?
Television, Autism linked?

I know for many families, myself included, completely irrefutablely, that tv had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Unknown said...

Hi lisa r

Yeah I saw the TV theory. Once again families are blamed because their children are autistic.

Thankfully the "refrigerator moms" theory is now history. That one cause a lot of harm by declaring that mothers who were cold towards their children caused their autism.

Imagine a mother being told [WRONGLY] that a lack of affection toward her child caused the child's autism? Unbelievable - today - but many mothers had to endure that nonsense.