The Lessons of Autism Awareness
I have a four-year-old nephew who started preschool in September. He is a sweet kid and very curious and intelligent, but he has some difficulty understanding and following spoken directions. It wasn't long before the teachers identified him as having autistic characteristics.
Did the teachers start a conversation about how they could better meet his needs? Did their increased awareness result in more services being provided to my nephew in their school? Well, no. What actually happened was that my sister was given two days' notice to remove him from the school. He had not been destructive or violent in any way, but the school apparently did not want to have any child with the scarlet "A" on its premises.
After looking into the available options, my sister enrolled him in a special-education preschool where he receives speech and occupational therapy. He seems happy in his new school, and I expect the therapy will be helpful, so it may work out all right. Still, there is something very wrong with our society when a young child's introduction to preschool turns out to be a firsthand lesson in the meaning of segregation.
More on Autism Speaks and Alison Tepper Singer: I've written a guest post on Wrong Planet about Singer's close relationship with Michael John Carley of GRASP, who circulated an e-mail yesterday asking autistics and others to send letters praising Singer to Autism Speaks' president Mark Roithmayr. My advice to the autistic community: Steer clear of GRASP and Carley's collaborationist scheming.