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Too Familiar

A young man with autism is overwhelmed in the classroom.  He hides under the desk to try to regroup his thoughts/take a sensory break.  He might be weird, but he is not hurting anyone and given a little time, he'll crawl out and be ready to do his next activity.

But that is not good enough.  The teacher demands all children are seated, face-forward and ready to do the next thing NOW.  So the para drags the kid when he refuses to get out that very instant.  He is left with rug burns and the family and school now likely have an adversarial relationship.


It's a story that is all too familiar to me and other parents like me who have autistic children.  In our case, Elf never got rug burns, but he was locked in a closet by staff for his "bad choices."  My husband and I got into a great deal of conflict over whether Elf could homeschool.  I had a great deal of conflict with the school, made worse by the fact that I could not just tell the staff that I was taking my kid out right then and they could screw themselves.

It was a hard, hard time. 

I don't know what I'm trying to accomplish by blogging about this sort of thing yet again.  Maybe I am trying to help people realize that this is really real, it really happens, and it really happens to real children.  And things need to change.  We need to get to the point where "What is wrong with that teacher?" is the first question asked and "What did the kid do to deserve that punishment?" never comes up.

Because unless there is a loaded gun involved, no kid deserves such harsh treatment.


  1. I'm sorry, Mrs. C. I can feel that your are struggling. I hope things get better soon.

    1. Thanks, Deb. It is really Woodjie who is struggling and I am very scared for his educational future, yk? :/

  2. Rug burns? Locked in closets?
    That's crazy! The teachers know the children are autistic surely?
    So they know that a little encouragement and leeway is required?

    1. Yes. And unfortunately even with a diagnosis this sort of thing happens frequently in certain areas of the country. Here in Missouri, there aren't even statistics on it, but every parent of a disabled child I've ever talked to has either gone through this or has pretty close knowledge of one who does.

  3. It sounds familiar to me too. My daughter was penalized daily in first grade (as far as she got in public school) for not sitting up straight, eyes front. She would do little things that I think (looking back) helped her be more comfortable. Wiggling her leg, taking off her shoes (she had a thing about having her toes confined), sitting on one knee, putting her head down. None of these were acceptable in a public school classroom, and so they wanted her on Ritalin. I was lucky to be able to tell them to shove it.

    Even now, at 16, about to graduate with college scholarships (already awarded), she seeks out closets and other small spaces, when she is overwhelmed. (her favorite place in the world is Grandma's linen closet) We are discussing whether she will turn her dorm closet into her school work space, or create a floor desk for under her bed to help with sensory issues and prevent distractions. (She's never been diagnosed with anything, but has tons of quirks that make me wonder.)

    1. Public schools see the disability/difference as a discipline problem instead of "give me a minute here." We have a really long way to go and the sad thing is, the schools should be teaching all of us more about this. I myself wondered where I went wrong and it took a long time for it all to click that this is not my parenting or my child, it is a pattern of abuse that is out there.

      Which is hardly surprising I suppose because part of the abuse is emotional insofar as they would love to make you think everything is your fault. That way, parents are less likely to seek accomodations and/or hire a lawyer...

  4. The problem is the big picture of what education has become: force-feeding facts as fast as kids can take them in so that they can do well on standardized tests and the school won't lose money. Someone way up on high decides what facts must be learned and when they must be learned, ignoring individuality, many other things worth learning, etc. So, the square pegs have to get hammered into place so that they don't get in the way of the daily cram sessions.


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