Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Autism Dad's Concerns About Role of Premier's Council on the Status of Disabled Persons

Following is a letter I forwarded to the Premier's Council on the Status of Disabled Persons. New Brunswick has just spent the last few 2-3 years reviewing its inclusive education system which has focussed on mainstream classroom inclusion for all students. As mentioned in the letter this approach does not work for ALL students including some autistic students such as my son. Our Education Department HAS provided for exceptions for students such as my son,providing an alternate learning environment and when available trained Teachers' Aides. The Department is now working to improve the deficit of trained personnel to work with our many autistic school children. But it makes no sense to engage in a review and make services available if educators and parents are pressured to place all children in the mainstream classroom regardless of whether they are well served by such placement.

Sent: March 28, 2007 11:43 AM
Subject: Inclusive Education Quiz

March 28 2007

Mr. Randy Dickinson and
Mr. Gary Comeau
Premier's Council on the Status of Disabled Persons

Re "Quiz Contest Promotes Inclusive Education in New Brunswick (07/03/22)"

I am the father of an 11 year old profoundly autistic boy. I participated both as an individual parent and as the representative of two provincial autism organizations at different stages of the Mackay Inclusive Education review process. I currently sit as the Autism Society New Brunswick representative on the Ministerial Committee on Inclusive Education.

At this time, I express my own personal views, in stating that I take exception to the use of the office and resources of the Premier's Council on the Status of Disabled Persons to promote one view of the merits of a full inclusion system in New Brunswick schools. There are many diverging points of view with respect to the emphasis on mainstream classroom inclusion for all students regardless of disability or ability.

Some profoundly autistic children are overwhelmed by classroom environment stimulation and require a quieter learning environment where they learn a different curriculum by different teaching methods than children their own age. Other disability organizations have also expressed some reservations about the over emphasis on full mainstream inclusive education. One of the great disadvantages of the inclusion revolution which has dominated New Brunswick schools for the past 30 years has been the lost of specialized expertise in teaching children with specific disabilities a problem which is currently being addressed for autistic children by the training of Teachers' Aides and Resource Teachers at the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training Program.

Reducing these complex issues to a quiz format with correct answers being those which support the status quo emphasis on mainstream classroom inclusion for all is, in my view, an inappropriate use of public resources of your office.


Harold L Doherty

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