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.