One of the things that my wife and I have always tried to do was take the high road. We felt that it was always better to set an example for our kids. We addressed anything that needed addressed but not in a half-cocked or unproductive way.
However, having said that, I’m beginning to rethink my approach. For those of you that haven’t seen this yet, I want you to read this letter. It was originally posted by Phillip Haines over at Autism Speaks. Please be aware that this letter is offensive and you might want to punch something when your done reading it. Please do so in a safe and conditions constructive manner.
After reading this I was really, really angry. I know this wasn’t written to me about my kids, but that doesn’t matter. The reality is that this letter, in a way, was written to anyone that has a special needs child that can be disruptive at school.
I don’t even know where to begin, as this letter is wrong in so many ways. I was going to pick the letter apart and point out all the ignorance and judgement but you can do that for yourself. I think the more important thing to do is figure out how to best address this type of situation.
What more can we do to better educate people so that this type of disgusting behavior never sees the light of day again?
Is the problem the ignorant cowardly parents that wrote this letter? Is the child referred to in this letter, in the right classroom? These are both good questions. However, as with many things in life, nothing is ever cut and dry.
The only thing I know for sure is that the people that wrote that letter are not special needs parents and thank God for that.
So often we, as the special needs community, face this type of cruelty. Our kids face this kind of cruelty all to often as well. How can we expect our kids to be treated with understanding and respect by their classmates, when their classmates parents are idiots.
I realize that my words aren’t very diplomatic but this kind of ignorance really pisses me off.
It shows how much work we have to do and what we have to fight against.
I understand that a parent could be concerned about the safety of their child if my child is aggressive and violent in the classroom. Having said that, this was not the way to handle it.
I can honestly say that when Gavin was extremely aggressive in the classroom, we approached the school several times about whether we needed to pull him. The last thing in the world we wanted was for someone to get injured.
I hope that this letter is an eye opener for everyone. We need more education and absolutely more compassion and understanding.
If I ever received a letter like this, I don’t know what I would do. I would be very interested to hear how this situation was addressed. My heart goes out to this family. As if life wasn’t challenging enough, now they have to wonder who to trust and who their friends are.
Please, we need to put an end to this type of ignorance. How can we expect the next generation to be understanding and compassionate if they are being raised by parents like this.
If these parents felt that something needed to be done, they should have contacted the school directly and expressed their concerns. Because of that way this was handled, it stinks of intolerance to me. If the parents were that concerned, they should have addressed it with the school. If they did and the school didn’t do anything, than perhaps it isn’t as bad as they are making it out to be.
Let me end with this. I understand that my kids can be disruptive at times. I know that school can be difficult for them and their classmates. However, if you have a concern about my child, sack up and address the issues face to face and in a mature, productive manner. Hiding behind a screen name or an anonymous letter as a means of attacking my family while concealing your identity makes you a spineless coward.
I’m always open to discuss something if it’s presented in a tactful, respectful and compassionate way.
What are your thoughts on this letter? How would you have handled receiving something like this? Please feel free to share in the comments or if you prefer, take it to the Autism Help Forums.
I'm sure that this letter was NOT written by the parents, but as a single parent. If someone else had proof read that letter I;m sure they would have been mortified of the attacking manner of it. I believe that this should have been done in a face to face conference at the school or something as this letter was just pure ignorance. On the other hand when my son started acting up, being disruptive in class and hendering his classmates learning…we moved him to a self-contained classroom. He was mainstreamed until he was in 3rd grade. I cried when we decided to move him to the self-contained classroom, because to me it struck me as him being "more autistic"…that we hadn't fought hard enough with him to keep him mainstreamed. Well now I can say that my son is flourishing in this class. There are only 12 kids in his class and he gets lots of one-on-one attention. So maybe the child addressed in this letter is just in the wrong class. And the writer of the letter is definitely ignorant, but unfortunately they are everywhere. As a nurse I see this ignorance on a daily basis. It might not be as aggressive as this letter, but some people are just plain ignorant. All we can do is educate…educate…educate.
I think these people should have stopped and thought before they wrote. My daughter is on the spectrum and has been known to be aggressive and have meltdowns at the school. I am just really happy she is in a small school with excellent teachers and resource teachers who are understanding and compassionate. next year is our last year at the school and the following year in the dreaded middle school. I am terrified absolutely terrified of my daughter going to that school. Grrrr
My sister (i am 14, she is almost 13 but has the mental capacity of an 7 or 8 year old) was in the secial ed program in the public schools for elementary school, so she went to a different elementary school and was in self contained classes the whole way through. Then we got to 5th grade and had to decide on middle school – – they had gotten rid of that special ed program for middle and high schools years ago – – now i was already in middle school and from what my mom was hearing from me, she was totally freaked out about having to send my daughter there. You have; lockers, PE, hallways, the bus, mainstream classes, seven different classes, (Montgomery County Maryland, im looking at you!) the point is she wldnt have been alble to make it there. Lucily we found a private ALL spec ed school nearby. That was some sort of miracle. Now we're just pushing to get the county to pay for it. To do that however, we have to prove that county would NOT be able to take care of her.
If god forbid she had had to go mainstream from the start and my parents had received that letter…that would not have been good at all. I, personally, would have attempted to get press hate crime charges.
This really hits a nerve. We have been on the receiving end of parents upset about our child’s behavior. I agree that these anonymous parents should grow a spine & an ounce of compassion. What really hurts is the insinuation that special needs parents don’t care and/or lazy. This could not be farther from the truth!! Our daughter is “neurotypical” and we understand the issue from both sides. However , heartless blaming and shaming is not the answer. By the way, what makes their children so darn perfect??? Idiocy.
I can't believe that letter was written by grownups, let alone parents. I don't mean to say that parents don't sometimes feel that way about disruptive kids: they do. They wish that more classroom time could be spent on instruction. Especially when the teacher is not up to the task, one or a few disruptive kids can have a very disorganizing effect on learning, sometimes for a whole year. That said, I don't know anyone who would actually send a letter of that sort to other human beings. It's awful.
I think one important piece is how well the parents of special needs kids are integrated into the community. When I began to hear stories from my 2nd grade daughter about the kid who threw scissors, shouted at the teacher, hit other kids, and spent most of the day under his desk being a frog, I was concerned. I happened, however, to know the kid's mom, and I knew she suffered enormously and that that family was trying everything they knew with that child. Granted, I could probably have guessed that. But *knowing* it helped me enormously to put that child's behavior into the context of our community rather than into the category of the "other".
I'm sure that it is difficult to parent a special needs child and also go to PTO meetings or church or temple or Kiwanis or the library board, but that kind of effort is what keeps special needs families "real" to other parents and keeps them in the community. So if I had to guess, sadly, I would guess that that letter went to a family who was isolated from the rest of the community, who did not have roots there, and/or had not maintained ties. Not to justify it at all; that is a horrible letter start to finish. Just to say part of the need for education around special needs kids can some directly from the parents to the community. And that will benefit everyone.
I agree that it is important to try to attend those community leadership meetings, but the reality is that the parents who would write that letter are the parents who would stand up and yell at you that you don't belong there because your kid shouldn't be in their school. We had some of this in the town we used to live in — not directed at me and my family, but definitely directed against other kids and families in the district (primarily in middle and high school campuses). These people are obscene — they don't have any empathy for others and view the world only through their limited (and typically conservative) perspective that places their small family unit at the center of everyone's universe. Being a "real" family by participating in the leadership groups is not going to make your situation any more "real" to these brutes.
If I had received a letter like this, you can bet that I would have had my attorneys knocking on their doors that day or the next, and I would have had the school call a meeting about family-to-family bullying. And I would have pressed charges–whatever charges I could get the police to press for bullying. It is bullying, and we have a culture that applauds it — just watch Fox News any day or night of the week.
I don't know how we get it to stop, but I would certainly start by giving these people a clear piece of my mind, followed by copies of all of the laws and medical texts related to the situation. Then I would tell them to shove their preciousness up their own …. well, you get the point.
This is pervasive, much more in some communities than in others. What I found was that while living in an area full of upwardly mobile middle class folks, we encountered this kind of attitude a great deal more than we do in a working- and stable middle class community where people actually have to worry about where their money is coming from.