I’ve found a problem with taking a respectful approach to parenting my autistic children.
Evidence of a problem
“She said you are the only one in your family that goes to school because all your family is retarded” were the words spoken to my 12 year old daughter at school on a Monday that she will not ever forget. She came home angry. Her inner activist was brought out and there was a fierceness in her eyes I’ve not seen before.
“How do I deal with this child’s disruptive behaviour?” It’s a common question. Before I give my answer to it, I think it’s really important to understand the question that is really being asked.
As usual I’m coming into the discussion “late”. The conversation about inclusion of autistic students in our nations classrooms has been at the forefront of all my social media feeds this week, and I’ve been sitting here, swinging between trying to take it all in and trying to avoid it.
On Tuesday 14 March, I attended TeachMeet Human Rights in Sydney. It was a wonderful event, with many excellent presentations. I was honoured to be invited to present a 7 minute talk on Autism and Inclusion.
Inclusion in education is a human right, yet there is much about our education system that makes it inaccessible to autistic students. I spoke about the experience of autistic students and how to make schools and classrooms more welcoming and accessible, using strategies to avoid the practice of seclusion and restraint that we have seen occurring recently.
I’ve been learning a lot about myself over the past year. I have made an effort to be more self aware, so I’ve been noticing more about the things I find difficult, rather just pushing through without thinking about how I could get through better. I’ve been observing my reactions to things, and seeing patterns in my responses to stress, stimulus and overwhelm. It’s been amazing to gain self understanding that helps me live well, and helps me be in the community more instead of hiding at home feeling like I can’t do things.
A while back I wrote an article about my experience when The Mighty approached me requesting to republish one of my blog posts, and it has experienced a surge in views recently as the social media reaction to The Mighty amongst disabled advocates and activists has played out.
TW: some readers will find the content of this article distressing. It references stories of abuse of disabled children within educational settings.
Inclusion is a bit of a buzz word, I guess. It is thrown around to assure everyone that schools are supportive and understanding of students with extra support needs. But the reality of attending school as a Neurodivergent person is a bit more complicated than being told you are included.
In conversation with an old high school friend I was asked about my thoughts on inclusion in the classroom. I responded that answering that would take me some time and I would get back to him. I had been thinking a lot about this, as during 2014 both MasterL and MissG left mainstream schooling, opting to do their learning at home.