The Appalling Way Special Ed Students Are Treated

autistic boyI don't doubt for a minute that teaching children with special needs is one of the most difficult career paths a person can take. Those who do it well must have tons of patience and a real commitment to helping others. Unfortunately, not all people in the profession do it well.

A recent press release from the National Autism Association points out some of the cruel and truly awful ways in which some special education children in this country, such as those with autism, are disciplined. Called "aversives," schools have been found to use techniques that include things like sticking vinegar-soaked cotton balls in students' mouths and withholding food and water to influence behavior. They're often being used without the parents' consent and without their knowledge. The scariest part is that these techniques are legal in some states.

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I can't even imagine how angry I would be if the people I entrusted with my child's care used such uncaring and inhumane techniques to prompt a certain behavior. There are other ways to treat problem behavior, but sadly this is just another way in which people with special needs suffer in our society. As parents Carol and Bill Rutar said in the release:

If I were to attempt to force an adult to do something like this, I would be arrested and charged with assault and battery. Further, if this happened to a student in a general education setting, there would be public outrage. It’s precisely the type of bullying behavior between students that is the focus of national attention and expressly prohibited.

The organization is working to get aversives outlawed in schools across the country. And how can anyone argue that they shouldn't be? They are degrading and dehumanizing, and have no place in our education system for ANY child. 

Do you think aversives should be outlawed in schools?


Image via Lance Neilson/Flickr

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