A Father, Stuart Chaifetz, Protects his son, Akian

Teacher/Bully:

How My Son Was Humiliated and Verbally Tormented by His Teacher and Aide

If you live in our world – the world of a special needs family member – you have most likely already seen about Stuart Chaifetz, and his son, Akian.  You can go to his website to hear more about it, but essentially a sweet, young autistic child was systematically ignored, tormented, teased, and abused by his teacher.  The father sent his son to school with a wire on and got over 6 hours of a day from hell on tap.

When I first heard the story, I went to the video expecting to see a story about an exasperated teacher and an ignored child.   Instead I hear a story so close to home yet so alien it frightened me.

The teacher worked in a self contained class for autistic students.  She had teacher aides, and – presumably – she had the training to properly do her job.

Guess what?  For 3 years I taught a self contained class for students on the spectrum.  I had teacher aides, and a rigorous and comprehensive yearly set of continuing education on the latest teaching methodologies.  I was just like this woman.

And yet we could not be further from each other had we been on opposite sides of the world.

Is it hard to teach these students?  Yes

Is it frustrating?  Yes

Are you emotionally tested every day?  Yes

Is it EVER OK to do ANYTHING these women did in their classroom?  No.  Not Ever.

Lets start with the gross unprofessionalism.  They ignore their students to discuss excessive drinking, late nights during the school week, and wildly inappropriate discussions about their husbands and sterilization. They also discuss the specifics of an IEP meeting on front of students – not only unprofessional, but not even legal.  Students have a right to privacy.

Are you kidding me?!?!

Let’s move on to the despicable subverting of the entire special education process.  The Teacher, OT, and Social worker all collude to blame the behaviors of the child on the parent at the IEP.  A stunningly gross destruction of the entire reason for such a meeting.  This is so morally, ethically and legally wrong it beggars description.  It makes me sick to my stomach and makes me ashamed to have been in the same profession as them.

What kind of person even entertains these ideas?

Now on to the most heart wrenching aspect.  These “professionals” took a well mannered child and turned him into a wounded animal.

How did they do this?  Simple really, they did everything wrong.  Everything.  I was waiting and waiting and waiting to hear something on those tapes that would redeem these adults in the slightest way.  I wanted to be able to say, “See!   Right there?  They were nice to their students.  They care, they just need more training / rest / help.”  But I never heard one thing like that.  Not one.

That’s the very worst part about this.  These grown ups literally did nothing they should have, and only an aide was sacrificed to appease Stuart Chaifetz, and his son, Akian.

The teacher, the Social Worker, the OT -  they all still have jobs, which means that they are all STILL DOING THIS TO SOME POOR CHILDREN RIGHT NOW.

Verbal abuse, emotional abuse, ridicule, anger, cruelty.  Stuart Chaifetz had to endure 6 hours of it.  His son had to endure it every day.  A child without the ability to communicate like we do, so he communicated the only way he could.  He lashed out and got mocked for it.

I wish I could step back emotionally and write about how maybe the school system let down everyone by not helping the teachers get enough training to do their jobs properly.  It is a very difficult job, and it needs a specialist, or at the very least specialized training.

But the heart of Special Education is just that – HEART.  You must love your students, you must need to help them in a very real and visceral way.  You must have trouble imagining working in any other field.  You must dedicate your life to service of the child.

These so called educators exhibited none of that.  None at all.  They do not deserve their jobs, and no student deserves to have them as a teacher.  Teaching is a sacred trust, and these people destroyed that trust for all of us.  Shame on you all, and thank you Stuart and Akian for forcing this travesty to light.

Akian – I wish you could know how sorry we are that you went through this, and how much we wish it could be taken back.  I hope one day we can be forgiven for allowing this to happen to you.

Progressing as a Society with Autism.

I have strong views on societies responsibilities with regard to Autism and the people who live their lives fighting to be accepted. One of the ultimate goals of One World Karate is to create a mainstreamed, inclusive environment outside of the schools where children with special needs such as Autism can interact on equal footing with Neuro-Typical (NT) peers.

This is to increase acceptance and understanding on both sides of the divide. Autistic students need social interactions with NT peers because that’s who they are going to interact with throughout their lives. For the same reason, the NT population needs to be better educated about the realities of Autism.  Autism isn’t going anywhere soon.

My reasoning is that as a society we are either moving forward towards true acceptance and understanding, or we are moving backwards. There is no standing still.

Autsim Awareness

Organizations like Autism Awareness help inform the public

Here in America we we have legislation in place such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to help assure equal access to public places such as restaurants, workplaces, movie theaters, etc. We have Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to assure equal and appropriate educational opportunities for students with special needs.  We have public and private businesses striving to help specific special needs groups to get the funds for research, public awareness, and political clout to continue their progress towards something like a cure, or treatment. But there is more that can and must be done.

If we are not moving forwards, we are moving backwards.

Over the weekend in Ireland, the Irish Examiner newspaper published a piece of rubbish by a psychologist who proclaimed that Autism was caused by inattentive, unloving, and abusive parents – a morally and scientifically bankrupt view that was debunked in America more than 30 years ago.

Read a scathing rebuttal HERE

If we are not moving forwards, we are moving backwards.

France as a society STILL classifies Autism as a mental illness and often removes Autistic children forcibly from their homes and places them in an institution for life. Despite 30 years of positive, scientifically validated alternative views and treatments put forth from the international community – especially in America – France stubbornly refuses to admit that their psychology based theory of unloved babies is detrimental and flat out cruel.

If we are not moving forward, we are moving backwards.

One World Karate

One World Karate wants to be part of the push forward

In light of these reprehensible “theories” and practices, we here in more enlightened societies have an even greater mandate to push forward. Our efforts may not only help our own people, but one day could make it so that there is simply no more choice elsewhere but to acknowledge that our way works and theirs doesn’t.

Certainly, we can’t sit by and allow the nightmare views of “Ireland’s most respected psychologist” to gain a foothold here in America.

If we are not moving forward, we are failing our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. We are failing our co-workers, neighbors, friends and family.  Ultimately, we are failing ourselves as well.

One in 150 children are born on the Autistic spectrum.  We simply can not afford to move backwards.