I’m not even sure where to start with this one. I’m sitting at my desk, surrounded by glass and curious co-workers, crying. There are a lot of days when I am brought to tears by one thing or another but it’s rare for me to be so upset that I cry at work. This, though…this…
Yesterday, on Facebook, I began seeing some of my FX friends sharing a news story. The headlines varied a bit depending on the source, but it all came down to a key point: a father in New Jersey sent his 10 year old son, who is non-verbal and has autism, to school wearing a wire and recorded his son being verbally abused and bullied. Not by other students…but by his teacher, his classroom aid and other staff members. I couldn’t bring myself to click on those stories to read the details.
I can so easily put Caleb in that story, too easily. He’s 8, he has fragile x and he can communicate but he’s not capable of telling us what he experiences at school. Every day we take him to the door of his classroom and hand him over to people we don’t truly know and we have to trust them to care for him and educate him and to show him the respect that he…that every child…deserves.
I’m not sure that other parents, parents of verbal children, of typical children, can even imagine the fear in our hearts that never, ever, ever, ever goes away. We live with that fear every single day, every single moment he’s out of our sight. I’m not sure that you can imagine the level of trust we have to show in people to simply be decent fucking human beings.
Special education teachers, aids and other staff members don’t have it easy. I could not do what they do, I struggle at times with caring for just one child, my child, and his challenges, but that is exactly why I’m NOT a teacher, an aid or another staff member!
Monkey is a pretty easy kid in most respects but he’s one of several and when you add his quirks to other kids’ quirks, to the need to balance the requirements of multiple IEPs and the pressure they’re under to teach these kids what they need to know…it’s not easy. And, they don’t get paid NEARLY enough for what they do. Srsly, our teacher is essentially teaching five classes simultaneously. FIVE. One for each of the four boys tailored to their specific needs PLUS the general curriculum that the typical students follow that they need to conform to in every other way, except for the additional requirements under the IEPs.
It takes a special person to do what they do day after day after day. But it doesn’t take a special person to treat these children with the respect they deserve. If you cannot treat a disabled child with respect you are…not just an awful teacher/aid/staff member, but you are an AWFUL fucking person.
So, clearly, today I finally clicked on one of those headlines and it was just as awful as I had imagined. This 10 year old child was humiliated, berated and demeaned by the very people who his father entrusted his care to each day. People who, for 6 months, complained because this child was acting out and violent…suddenly violent…after so many years. People who brought in a behavior specialist to try create a plan to address this child’s behavior when all they needed to do was stop being total…I cannot use the word I want to…fucking assholes1.
And these people, with one exception, still have their jobs even though the father took this tape to the school. It’s entirely possible that some of the people on the tape…people who made fun of his child, made him cry, upset him to the point that he had a meltdown…are still working with his son because the school won’t identify them. How fucked up is that?
Please, watch the video and share it. This…it cannot be allowed to happen, to be hushed up and hidden…
**UPDATED TO ADD**
There is a petition on Change.org asking that the teacher…the person who should be held *MOST* responsible for what happens in the classroom, who was simply sent to another school in the district, be fired.
- Yeah, it was way worse than that. [↩]