I just realised I never shared the piece I wrote that got me blogging.
A controversial Australian politician by the name of Pauline Hanson made a call during parliament that children with autism should be excluded from mainstream schooling. Kept in a classroom seperate from other children as they are taking up too much teacher time and distracting from the gifted children.
I was so upset by her comments that I took to Facebook to write an open letter to senator Hanson.
My letter went viral and was even published by an Australian website called MamaMia and parts were used in another news site called the Guardian.
Here was what I said and no I never got a reply.
Dear Pauline Hanson,
Today I dropped my three children to school, same as any other week day.
The first to hop out the car is my eldest. At 10 years old he is full of energy and is beyond his years smart. He is in year 5 at school.
He has a small group of friends that call themselves ‘the club’. They play together every day. Kallan received mostly B’s on his report card apart from an A in science. He is studying extension maths, and can spell long and difficult words, although, his handwriting is somewhat atrocious. He has received a letter of commendation from his principal each semester and has never been in any trouble at school.
He has a vast understanding of our universe and how the world was made. He loves to read a range of fiction and non-fiction books and is probably more knowledgeable than me on most topics.
Kallan is also autistic. He is also at a mainstream school.
At 4 years old starting kindergarten, my child could barely speak and what he could say was extremely hard to understand. We pushed him, it was hard for him and hard for us but we pushed him to attend mainstream so he could have children to model from, to learn to speak from, to hopefully one day be his friend. He did not make his first proper friend until he was in year 3 at school.
If only you knew just how much work, how much heartbreak, how much joy we had gone through to get my son to a point where he is now fitting quite seamlessly into a mainstream school.
The second child to get out of the car was my 9 year old. Campbell, like his brother, loves school and has a small group of friends he looks forward to seeing each day.
Campbell loves all things transport or technology and can actually design as create games on the computer! He has also never been in any trouble at school, receiving a letter of commendation from his principal each semester. He got mostly b’s and c’s on his report card. He struggles with maths but unlike his older brother has beautiful handwriting and has written some talented and imaginative stories over the years for us to read.
Like his older brother, Campbell is on the autistic spectrum. At 4 years old he was non-verbal and still wearing nappies. By 5 he was speaking and completely toilet trained. No thanks to the amazing Education Assistants and teachers at his mainstream school, and the students. These students don’t know the impact they had on my son. All he has ever wanted is to be like the other kids. ‘The other kids don’t use Picture Exchange Cards, so I’m talking and not using mine’. ‘The other kids don’t wear nappies any more so I don’t want them to see mine, I’m not wearing them anymore’. The list goes on…. I’m not saying Campbell doesn’t struggle in mainstream, but can you tell me any child disability or not that doesn’t struggle with division or multiplication at some stage in their life. If he hadn’t been pushed to mainstream he wouldn’t be the child he is today.
Lastly, my youngest child. He stays in the car and we travel further down the road to a special school, you know the kind you think all my kids should be at.
Patrick is 6. He also has autism. He can not speak, he can not use sign language. He can not sit still for long periods. He needs a lot of support so it was always our logical choice to place him in ed support. The place that’s best for him. His school is amazing and completely the right choice, for Patrick.
Not my other two boys.
Autism is a spectrum disorder and there is more to it than lumping a group of kids together because they are squares who who won’t fit in your round holes.
I want what any parents want for their children. For my children to have every opportunity available. For them to excel in life and for their talents to blossom. Lastly, for them to grow into functioning and contributing members of our society.
Please leave the decision making about these children to those who know best. Their parents and the education department.
I sincerely hope you read this and re-think your comments and apologise to not only my sons but the whole autistic community,