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When Our Special Educators Are Not So Special

When Our Special Educators Are Not So Special

Do you know what happens after you put your child on the school bus in the morning? If you are a parent of a “typical” child, then maybe he or she gave you the complete run down later that day. If you are a parent of a child with special needs, then there is a chance that you have no idea what happens on the bus or at school. The reason is not because your child does not want to tell you but because your child does not have the words to tell you. Pause and think about this for a minute.

As parents of children with special needs, we have to have 100% trust in the school staff  hired to care for them. We have to trust that when we put them on the school bus they are kept safe. We have to trust that they had a productive day at school working on their Individual Education Program (IEP) goals.

We send our children to school to be educated, supported, and nurtured. We do not send them to school to be bullied and abused. Some of our children are non verbal. Some of them have behavioral challenges. Some have sensory integration issues and some are just trying to make it through the school day.

As more cases of abuse toward special needs children make the news, I am realizing that they are all at risk. Stuart Chaifetz
, from New Jersey, had to resort to having his son Aikan wear a wire to school to find out why his behavior had changed. Veronica Droz, from New York, had to put a tape recorder in her daughter Tori’s book bag to find out what was happening to her on the school bus. A staff member at P.S. 197 in New York called the NYPD because a 5-year old boy  had a tantrum.

All of these children are on the autism spectrum. All of them were subjected to situations where the people trusted to take care of them were mistreating them or overreacting to their behavior.

I am convinced that some of these teachers and aides are not mentally and emotionally equipped to handle the unique needs of our children. This problem is not going away. It is worse than we think.

I know there are some wonderful special education teachers out there. Ones who genuinely love and care for their students. We desperately need more of them. We certainly do not need the ones who abuse, disrespect, and take advantage of our children.

A *parent recently told me that her daughter’s 1:1 paraprofessional or aide begged her to make sure that her daughter had a 1:1 when she went to her new school in the fall. The aide added that children who need a 1:1 and do not receive one are mistreated. The aide also told the parent that she has reported several of her colleagues because they were mistreating children.  When I heard this story, a knot formed in my throat. Angel also has a 1:1 at his current school and will be transitioning to Kindergarten in the fall.

What will it take to protect my child and yours?  Are we going to have to demand that cameras be installed on ALL school buses and in EVERY special education classroom?

Please allow me to share my Call to Action with you. I believe that each one will bring us closer to solving this chronic problem:

  • Every child with special needs has to have a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) included on their IEP. Everyone in the school including therapists and aides have to follow and be aware of this plan.
  • Special education teachers, aides, and school bus matrons must undergo sensitivity training at least once a month.
  • Special education teachers and aides have to be fully educated about the diagnoses of every child in their classroom. We cannot have adults working with children on the autism spectrum when they do not fully understand what autism is.
  • Parents must maintain open lines of communication with their children’s teachers, therapists, and aides.
  • Cameras must be installed in all special education classrooms and on school buses.
  • Contact your New York State legislators and urge them to support Governor Cuomo’s proposed Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. On May 17th, the New York State Senate unanimously passed the Protection of People with Special Needs Act S7400 in support of this center. Now it is up to the New York State Assembly to do the same.
  • If you have similar legislation up for a vote in your state, contact your legislators and voice your support.

We cannot sit by and say “not my child” because one day it could be.

What would you add to my Call to Action list? What lengths would you go to in order to find out what was really happening at your child’s school?


Please share your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Miz Kp

*names withheld to protect parent and aide’s identity

 

 

Miz Kp
Written by Miz Kp

13 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    May 23, 2012

    Abuse of all children and especially children on the Autism Spectrum must stop! Your Action Call is welcomed to protect our children. Each news story is a stab in the heart that leaves me bleeding and wondering, what’s next? Let it be Positive Action Now!

    Reply

  2. Avatar
    May 23, 2012

    It is one of many fears that I have to face everyday – from the moment he boards the school bus. He is such an innocent child that even if he was mistreated, I wonder if he could even tell the difference. I do confess that every night when I give him his bath, I check his body for bruises and marks. But how can I know if he is being verbally abused. I believe there should be security cameras on every school bus and every classroom and parents should be able to use an app to view whatever is going on. I know I would be willing to pay whatever it costs just to be able to check on my son whenever I want to.

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  3. Avatar
    May 23, 2012

    I know exactly how you feel. I decided to take my son out of school and homeschool him eventhough I’m a single working parent living paycheck to paycheck and with a chronic potentially life-threateniong condition and who also cares for an elderly mother with cancer and visually impaired. All that said: It was the best thing I ever did for my son and I kick myself for not catching on sooner to what he was enduring. The difference between you and I is that you still trust the system can be fixed and after busting my hump trying to communicate with school administrators, school districts and anyone that could potentially help I came to the conclusion it was useless. For the sake fo all of our children I sincerely hope you are right and I am wrong.

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    • Avatar
      May 23, 2012

      I hope I am right also because if we lose all trust, then what is left? I do know that until he has the language to tell me how his day was, I will always pray and hope that he is ok when he is in the care of school and bus staff. In fact, I know that even when he has the language, I will still want him to be safe. I am glad that you were able to make a decision that was right for your son and your family. The good thing is you saw that a certain situation wasn’t working and you made moves to change it to become something that does work.

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  4. Avatar
    May 23, 2012

    “I believe there should be security cameras on every school bus and every classroom and parents should be able to use an app to view whatever is going on.”

    Well that is, quite frankly, scary. You have to learn to TRUST and not control every aspect of every sitution.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      May 24, 2012

      “Well that is, quite frankly, scary. You have to learn to TRUST and not control every aspect of every sitution.”

      I don’t TRUST anyone outside of my immediate family with anything that has to do with my non-verbal, autistic son. We live in a world where people use security cameras to make sure their homes, cars, even their ipads and iphones are safe…all of these things are replaceable…yet our children, the most volnerable amongst us, are being abused by teachers, aides and even other children, on a daily basis, and all we could do is pray that they get home safe everyday. I don’t think so.

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      • Avatar
        May 29, 2012

        I agree. I am a firm believer that how we take care of the weakest and most vulnerable among us is a measure of our society. We have electronic vigilance at places producing high revenues (such as at banks, on highways and intersections to catch traffic violations, in shopping centers, etc)yet the elderly, the young and the disabeled are not a concern eventhough the crimes against them are absolutely appalling and should be the ones carrying the heaviest punishment. On the bright side, the NY governor (Cuomo) created an entity to investigate crimes against people with disabilities and to make sure that those who do it once will pay and will never get to do it again. A light at the end of the proverbial tunnel?? I hope so …

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    • Avatar
      May 29, 2012

      Lena, with all due respect: Trust is earned. Also, it isn’t about control but rather the old saying: ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. If our children are abused (or worse) many ‘administrators’ will be VERY apologetic for whatever occurred to them and will give speeches to the press stating how deeply saddened they are; but they will never be able to take it back or, God forbid, give us our children back. After a brutal incident occurs every one is quick to issue public statements and deploy sensitivity training and protocols to prevent another ‘tragedy’ from happening and what have you. What does that do for the child or adult that was victimized and how does it help me/you/his/her family endure the horror?? I want safety measures NOW, not later. I don’t want “I’m sorrys”, I want “we saw a situation developing, nailed the perpetrator, immediately terminated him/her (if an employee at wherever) and placed him/her in police custody. Your child is fine. Have a nice day.”.

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  5. Avatar
    May 29, 2012

    Too many people are not aware of the governor’s proposed reforms. I am doing my part to spread the word and hope that everyone that is aware does the same. Strong measures have to be put in place in every state to deal with this problem. Once a child is hurt the consequences would be felt for a life time. I hope the governor also increases funding for special education and the needs of the special needs population. Reform should be tackled from all angles.

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  6. Avatar
    May 30, 2012

    I have seen first-hand how the administrative team, at facilities for individuals with disabilities, put on a front when the government agencies come into the facility to see if they are meeting the standards for working with the population. If you are a parent of a child with a disability it is a good idea to pop up unexpectedly to visit. This is because if you schedule a visit to see how your child is doing, it is more than likely that the scene will be staged. From working in the field I have not seen physical abuse of the consumers. However there tend to be issues with the overall operation of the facilities.

    -

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  7. Avatar
    June 03, 2012

    If you dont mind, where do you host your website? I am hunting for a very good host and your web site seams to be quick and up most the time

    Reply

    • Avatar
      June 03, 2012

      My site is self hosted by http://www.alfaminc.com/. Yes I have a good host and haven’t had problems with my Web site. You can refer to my web site when you contact them. The owner/website designer’s name is Shauna Graham.

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  8. Avatar
    September 19, 2012

    “Local family catches caretakers’ abuse on camera” seen on channel 8 san diego news Sept 19th 2012. Just horrific! Why is there such a rise in abuse of autistic people? What does this say about the soul beat of our society? http://www.cbs8.com/story/19589835/local-family-catches-caretakers-abuse-on-camera

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