Monday, May 27, 2013

"Our Family Is Very Fortunate That What Happened To Our Son, Who Has #Autism, Wasn't As Bad As It Could Have Been"

     No matter how a parent tries to protect their child, and prevent anything happening to him or her, it is ultimately impossible. Nathan was visiting another fourth grade class recently, and that teacher, unfortunately, abused her authority with him. I was substitute teaching that day so, what happened was still fresh in his mind when he came to me at the end of the day. Besides Nathan not having his backpack with him, he had this unsettling look on his face. I calmly asked him where his backpack and jacket were...he sighed telling me "upstairs in my classroom, I just forgot to stop and get them". Because it was getting closer to time for the students to be dismissed for the day, I suggested that maybe Nathan should go get his things and come straight back. I'm not entirely sure if he walked because he made it back in record time. At first I thought that he was just out of breath from getting his backpack but, then I quickly remembered how he was acting a few minutes earlier. When I asked him if everything was okay, he shakily said "I don't understand what I did to be treated like an animal." I was still responsible for the class that I was assigned to that day so, it was slightly difficult for me to give him my full and undivided attention but, I asked him once more if there was anything that he wanted to tell me. I was not prepared for what came out of his mouth. What I heard was unreal. I was literally in shock when he told me the first time. Even though I am an extremely visual person, I could not get the disturbing picture, that my almost ten year old son had verbally painted for me, out of my head. 

     I immediately but, calmly, buzzed the school office to find out if an administrator was available. When I informed the office staff that something had happened to my fourth grader, I was told that someone would be available to speak with me shortly. When Nathan told the school administrator what had happened to him, a full investigation was promptly initiated by the school district. Statements were taken from each student from my son's class along with those from students from that particular teacher's classroom. Once supporting statements as to the specific details of what happened to Nathan were collected, the school district was able to piece together what actually had transpired in that teacher's classroom. This teacher had been responsible for Nathan, several students from his class and others from that classroom during an outdoor activity, from which they had lost certain privileges. It was during this time that Nathan was over-stimulated, acting out and entertaining the students even though the teacher had asked him several times to stop. Evidently, that was the limit to what that teacher could take because the last part of Nathan's day spun out of control, leaving him questioning his respect for teachers in general. He was not sent to the hallway to calm down, to the office to think about his actions, to the classroom where I was substitute teaching, or even to the resource room that was only twenty feet down the hallway. That teacher crossed a line when Nathan was told to get under the teacher's desk. That teacher didn't stop there...this person proceeded to trap my confused son, like an animal, by scooting the teacher's chair up to the desk where he couldn't get out!    

     Please believe me when I say that this individual was dealt swift justice by the school district. Our family was very impressed at how fast they had taken action, interviewing the students who had witnessed the incident and called us concerning the situation. It was handled very efficiently and, thankfully, Nathan did not have to see that teacher ever again. I understood that the school officials could not discuss any specific details involving the investigation. What was important was that the situation was resolved, restoring our beloved elementary school back to normal, and our family could concentrate on helping Nathan to remember that he needs to respect teachers. He is having a difficult time trusting teachers because of what happened to him but, we plan to make sure that he understands what occurred was an isolated incident. We are very happy that this has not affected the school that we love.

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