Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hi Conor

Conor is diagnosed with Autistic Disorder, with profound developmental delays. In school he was overwhelmed and came home with self inflicted bite marks on his hands and wrists. At our request he was removed from the mainstream classroom and his education in a separate room began. The bite marks were no longer present and he began to actually like school. We very much appreciate the accommodation of Conor's autism disability by educators in our schools and district.

This "segregation" that we requested as his parents has been of great benefit to him in many areas including his own health and his learning. And, despite the concerns of the total inclusion advocates from the New Brunswick Association for Community Living and the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission (the current NBHRC Chair is a very prominent, decades long advocate for New Brunswick's total inclusion model) it has not harmed, and may in fact have helped, Conor socially.

Today, in grade 7 his primary instruction area is still a small separate room. But the education assistant who works with Conor takes him into the gym and other common areas of the school for specific activities and for limited periods of time. The Youtube videos on the sidebar of this site include two short clips of Conor in the middle school gym. Although no other children are visible there were many children in the gym that day when I video'd some of Conor's gym activities while being careful not to capture other children in the videos.

When I take Conor to school each day there is a boy who often speaks directly to Conor and asks me questions about him. Last week as I approached the entrance doors to the school with Conor a girl approached and walked towards the school beside him, saying "Hi Conor" playfully trying to tickle him and engage him in small talk.

Conor's experience at middle school is consistent with his experience at grade school. Having Conor in the local neighborhood schools but not in the mainstream classroom all day has not prevented other children in the schools from getting to know him or wanting to get to know him.

I don't know if the children would be as nice to Conor if he was in their classroom all day, overwhelmed by the noise, sights and activity and suffering periodic meltdowns.

Now they see Conor when it is best for him. His periods of public interaction with other children are designed to succeed. A simple principle of ABA ... and common sense ... that is often ignored by the ideology of the total inclusion advocates.

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Suzanne said...

I watched the video of Conor counting. I can really relate to it. My oldest used to love counting to one hundred, too.

She likes to stim by running around and thinking of stories and thoughts in her head.

Anonymous said...

I dont know, for me? I see people with autism as fresh souls that have no sin on them from a past life. Their bodies and souls are so pure that every day of their life they smile and enjoy the company of others around them..