Are children with #Autism treated poorly in school?

I posted earlier about the little kindergarten boy with #Autism, denied lunch over a billing issue.  The school claims it was an oversight. Is that possible? Sure. Is it likely? I doubt it but I wasn’t there, so I can only speculate.

This got me thinking and I decided that today’s #Autism Discussion should be on this very topic. 


I’m wondering if you feel that children with #Autism are treated poorly in the school setting? Are they treated differently than their NT peers?  Obviously kids with special needs have to be treated differently in some cases but I’m referring to something like what happened to that little boy in the article.

Are children with #Autism more likely to be treated poorly or mistreated in general, than their NT peers?

What is your experience? Why do you think this happens? What can be done to fix this?

This was posted via WordPress for Android, courtesy of Samsung’s Galaxy S III. Please forgive any typos. I do know how to spell but auto-correct hate me.

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Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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@nosleepintoon Oh, and worked out that I was confusing you with @PenningtonG for some inexplicable reason. Sorry guys, have you met?


@DownsSideUp We haven't met before but we have now thanks to you! 😛 I have never heard of seclusion rooms but I will have a look now


@nosleepintoon @reality_autism Just been researching 'seclusion rooms' on this subject. scratch the surface and you will find shit.


@Jennifer–(as a former teacher who turned in a PE (former SPED) teacher for encouraging the abuse of a very special needs student and allowing it to take place while he watched)—I suggest that you be very calm when you speak to the principal and make him/her aware that you are ready to call the assault in to the police and to press charges against this teacher.  That should be very clear that you will press charges if you are not satisfied with the response from the school.   If the teacher is willing to bonk your son on his head while others are watching, then what takes place when there is no one else there?  I am assuming your child is verbal, but I have seen a very verbal, expressive child with Prader-Willi driven into a catatonic state that lasted for months by a few moments abuse.  She, too, was verbal until the next day after the abuse.  Luckily she was able to tell what happened to her before becoming catatonic.   It has been 8 years and she is still in the grip of a psychosis that is basically unrelenting since the incident at school.  Yes–she was emotionally fragile, but that doesn't excuse the behavior of the teacher nor the attempt by the school to cover the incident up.
As special needs parents we need to be vigilant, but also discerning.  Someone one told me that ASD kids never lie—but that is totally unrealistic.  My younger daughter will lie whenever she is in a spot or caught out.  The older girl will only lie if only it involves how much money she has spent.  So when the younger girl is reporting something that happened at school, I check with multiple people because she lies so frequently.  BUT when there is a real problem, I am hell on wheels for the school to deal with.  IEP meetings are recorded by me and by the school, the head of special ed for the school system is there or one of his immediate juniors.  Because I know education law inside and out, the school is very careful to "dot and cross" when writing her IEP and implementing it!
As for people feeling the need to defend all teachers or to make other broad generalizations-be aware that you're not impressing anyone.


@Grace @ChrisCrane this is my site and anyone and everyone that treats people with respect, are welcome. This is the best way to spread Autism Awareness. @Grace you are always welcome here. 🙂

I think that we just touched on a very sensitive issue. I think that there were good points brought up and I'm glad it was discussed.

I don't think that @Grace meant to come across the way she did at first. Anyways, we're all friends now. 🙂


@Grace If you are going to sit there an try to steer this forum in your direction so all eyes are on you please leave. This is not about us – this is about trying to find solutions for our CHILDREN. So if you want to feel full of self importantance and have nothing of value to add to the conversation please find somewhere else to be. Your making an ass of yourself and you just don't get it.


@Greg Bartleman – you're so on the money… Great post couldn't have said it better myself


I think our kids are treated poorly and the reason being is lack of awareness from teachers and children a like. I think every inclusive schools should have sessions relating to special needs and child regardless of the problem. If children are educated and understand they are very accepting.

Ignorance breeds contempt and this causes do much pain for everyone involved. Education is key. If you know better you do better…


 @ChrisCrane Grace raised some valid points.  It is by raising points such as these respectfully and with an open mind that one is able to educate themselves better.  Rob gave a very detailed answer to Grace which, also to me, was very valuable.  If these types of difficult, yet opposing viewpoints don't come up, then how are we to address them in thoughtful discussion and to learn from each other?  That is why I am here, even though I also have no kids and no experience with autism.  That should not exclude me, or Grace, from commenting here.


@OnyxPanthyr Neuro Typical. People without autism at generally referred to as Neuro Typical or NT for short.


 @lostandtired  @OnyxPanthyr Ah.  Thank you.  🙂  I must have missed that in your blog.  I frequently have to play catch up over a few days, especially since I'm not really online on the weekends.


I think that any special needs child could be treated poorly in the school system. They can be very hard to care for, people get frusterated with their behaviors, and sometimes we all have bad days. That being said, there are many loving and caring individuals who work with these children. They share each success and setback with these kiddos. What worries me more are the kids in  regular classrooms who have special needs and they have fallen through the cracks. These are the ones that suffer from asperger's, ADHD, mental illness, and a whole host of other things and they get ridiculed and reprimanded for their behavior. Then they are labeled bad and this label writes on this child's soul. Parents and Teachers don't communicate their concerns or are uneducated with childhood disorders and don't know any better. Maybe worse than that are parents or teachers that do not believe in such maladies or that because of their overdiagnosis that this specific child is not affected. All parents and teachers need to be educated about the thigs that plague all of our children so that we can recognize when a child needs extra help. This will never happen though because that would mean our government has to pull their heads out of their a@%e$ and take a look at our children and education system. Again this is one of my soapbox issues so I am passionate about educating parents and teachers about childhood issues. I am also not just talking about disorders and disabilities, I am referring to drug use and sexual acts going on between children and the slang the kids use to get these things past parents.


@Grace well put. You're absolutely correct, at least in my opinion. 🙂


What does "NT" mean?

Greg Bartleman

I happen to have a child who is PDD-NOS and we have been fortunate in the schools he is in that hasn't been an issue. We are very involved with the school as to his education and how his actions in school affect that and those around him. I would say almost all the teachers and administrators have to be very open and willing to work with him and us so he is successful and not disruptive to the rest of the class. When we first moved to the current district we are in, he was going into 5th grade. Now the district is small so they didn't have a lot of experience with kids on the spectrum but they partnered with us to learn everything they could for him. My wife even went up to my son's class and met with the kids to explain what autism was and to show he wasn't really much different from them, just had a different challenge. We like to hope that all our efforts will make it easier for families who come after us since that groundwork and experience will already be there. As I said earlier, we have been fortunate with the schools he has been in but having said that we expect no less. We know our son is no angel by any means but mistreatment of him or either of his siblings is swiftly dealt with. We are his biggest supporters and have made it very clear with the school. My wife always says at every meeting, " I can fix 'I don't know' but I can't fix 'I don't care' and if they don't care they will be replaced on the team." Teaching is an honorable profession, I have nothing but the highest respect for them. However, like any line of work there are good ones and bad ones and the bad ones are the ones who need weeded out for all kids sake. We have always made our selves visible and available to the teachers, staff and administrators when ever they need help or have questions. I encourage all parents and not just ones who's kids have disabilities to be very involved with their kids school. Find out what their rights and responsibilities are and be there for your kids and the staff because you have to work together for the kids to be successful.


@Greg Bartleman very, very well said.


This is why we homeschool, we have gone through,no one following IEP ,OT that was laughable,classwork that was clearly done by the aids,and not the kids,and now with the rules they have you can not  catch them at anything you have to stop by the office ,there are no pop ins so unless your teacher is willing to hit your kid while your watching and If your kid is non -verbal forget it ,they say anything to them ,Do you know in most school districts the problem teachers are shipped to special ed,after 2 years of service they are tenured and almost impossible to gotten rid of so they are shipped to spots the kids cant tell on them. I f they do get told on,they get put on PAID LEAVE, Our kids are forgotten,molested,(if one in 6 boys,1 in 3 girls are molested ,what do you think the rate of a non-verbal kid is ) Our kids are bullied and if you have problems with communication ,how to get help.? Or they are manipulated by NT kids ,to do the wrong,the weird  for the amusement  of the NT's, School bus rides are agony for most of our sensory kids,to much noise,smells,etc, and after riding to school being assaulted by every direction ,they are supposed to settle down and learn and fit in ?REALLY ? Our kids and their strengths and weakness's are so  different for each one of them  how is a class room of these kids really supposed to taught , all together ,? I know that not all family's can home school but I think IEP should really be thought out ,a truly individual education plan, Maybe they don't go all day,maybe they have certain classes mainstreamed , how about a class that the bells don't go of in ,or the volume is turned way down, carpet on the floor ,sensory stuff is thought of : and addressed ? How do expect the best of these kids if what they need is not even acted on ?  The whole person needs to be addressed and I think most schools are not able to do it  .(oh as for you ,Penny Higgins,why would you comment ,you are NOT a teacher,NOT a parent,NOT  special needs parent ,or an Autistic person !)  There are great teachers out there but I will not wade through the muck and waste my kids time ,and education and have their self esteem destroyed by a system that doesn't respond to them , I want my sons to know they are different but be proud of it not ashamed ,  And how does a child who is CLEARLY DIFFERENT put in place 6 hours a day that rewards fitting in ,come out feeling good about themselves ?  I want happy,healthy,fulfilled autistic adults,not adults that constantly berate themselves to FIT IN OR TO PASS ? Our kids,will be adults and they will be autistic  adults ,we need to think about that, and stop trying to make them into what they can not be ,NT's like us .  Just  a thought,thanks Gloria


 @ChrisCrane Hi Gloria. I think you meant to refer to Grace, not to me, because I am a teacher (in college) and I do have an autistic son. …and my husband's probably an aspie. I agree with your comments if they're really directed at Grace. Thanks.


I am so sorry that I directed that comment to you ,you are a parent,and spouse of someone on the spectrum, so should have a forum here,if people who admit that they are not ,a parent ,spouse,sibling ,friend  or an autistic person themselves they should stay out of these forums unless you want to really learn from all of us ,Don't sit there and judge what you don't know or live .  Gloria


I was not aware that this forum was only for those who experience autism in their lives.  You are not a very welcoming group.  I expect better from special needs parents.  I came here to learn, not to pass judgment.  And neither should any of you. 


It's tough to generalize about the treatment of autistic (or any special need) child in schools. An important factor is whether or not the school has programs to handle these kids. Before our son was diagnosed and placed in a special program, his treatment wasn't very good. He would be suspended every time something went wrong and the teachers and staff couldn't deal with it. I don't fault the teachers or the staff, though some mistakes (significant ones) were made, but the result was that my son was not treated fairly. Since his diagnosis and placement in a special program with people trained to deal with behavior and socialization issues, my boy hasn't missed a day of school. We are fortunate, however, that in this state (New York) good programs exist (and we pay for it with high property taxes). We'd be home-schooling him, somehow, if such programs did not exist.


OK.  I have to jump in here.  Full disclaimer: I am a single professional woman, and I know no autistic people and have no kids.  I appreciate your blog and I sympathize very much with the difficulties of special needs families.  However, please do not forget how difficult one special needs kid is for one teacher to control.  Do not blame the teachers and schools if your kid requires a lot of special and extra help.  Your child shouldn't be mainstreamed if the teacher has to spend that much time and effort controlling your child. 
I am so tired of seeing good teachers villified for trying their best.  It is not their fault that your kid is difficult.  It is your fault for insisting that your kid be considered more normal than he/she is.  I read many special needs parents write variations on this theme: "I am relieved that school started so I can let someone else take care of my kid for a while."   If you found your kid tiresome and exhausting, then why do you think someone else will react differently?  
You people (the special needs parents) need to be more understanding of the burden your kids are on a classroom.  (Once again, this is a broad generallization.  I'm sure that your individual kid is an absolute angel who is never disruptive.  🙂  ) 
I am not a teacher.   But I am the daughter, niece, and grand daughter of teachers.  I will defend with my last breath the good people in that profession who do their best in impossible situations. 
OK.  I'm done.  Let the flaming begin. 


@Grace wow… How about some compassion for these kids. I appreciate what you are saying and I respect your opinion. However, the fly in the ointment here is neither the kids or most of the teachers. You need to understand the problem before turning this back around on the special needs families.

The problem is that the school systems don't want to spend the money on special needs kids and so they want them in the "least restrictive environment". This means they put kids that need specialized classrooms into the general population and that's not fair to the child or the teacher. I never said anything about the teachers but since you brought them up.

There is absolutely no excuse for a child being abused, mistreated or ignored by a teacher. None what so ever.

There are many amazing teachers out there. However, there are some truly horrible ones as well. Blindly defending all teachers is unwise and irresponsible because some of them don't deserve it. My oldest was abused by his teacher. We tried to get him into a different classroom but the school wouldn't allow it. They claimed that she was a special needs teacher and it was the best fit. That teacher had no business teaching special needs children and we were advised to sue the school district but instead put him out and payed for private school instead.

For the record, we have teachers in my family as well.

Please don't flame folks. She is entitled to her opinion but clearly has no experience in having a child mistreated by a teacher.


 @lostandtired  @Grace
Rob, thank you for your thoughtful reply.  I agree that there is a difference between purposeful mistreatment and being ill-equipped to deal with autism issues.  The real problem is identifying the best learning environment for your special needs child.  I appreciate how difficult it is to determine that. 


This is at the top of my mind today.  Just last night my son was telling me about an incident in his special ed classroom with his main teacher.  Long story short, his teacher bopped him on top of the head with a wooden stick for not reading a word right.  I'm so mad today and have been waiting for myself to cool down before I call the principal.  But I will be watching this post very closely.  As it has been my experience for 3 years now that my son has not been treated properly in the public school system.  He often gets lost at school among other things.  🙁  Very sad mommy.


@Jennifer you aren't alone. Our two kids that attended public schools were mistreated. Honestly, in Gavin's case it was more like abuse.

Hang in there and for what it's worth, cooling off was a good idea before addressing the problem.. Please keep us posted.