Monday, April 15, 2013

Autism Abuse Awareness

Well, it's that time again. It's Autism Awareness Month...most people I know are aware of autism. I make sure of that. But many people are not aware of what our children face every day when we send them to school. Autistic children are particularly vulnerable to abuse because many of them are non-verbal and abusers feel empowered knowing the victim cannot report what happened. 

Consider what happened earlier this month in Massachusetts.  A 26 year-old special education teacher there filmed herself ripping duct tape off the eyebrows of a young autistic student.  She allegedly told kids at Arthur T. Cummings Elementary School in Winthrop to stomp on his feet "because she liked the way he said ‘ouch’".
I couldn't make this stuff up about some people's depravity...
And that’s not all.  She is also accused of taking a picture of the child's partially exposed buttocks after his pants slid down.

The police were tipped off by a co-worker after she began showing the disturbing iPhone footage and images in the faculty room last month.

It takes a special kind of sick to not only perpetrate these types of acts…but to BRAG about them?  This monster is on paid administrative leave while police investigate and they have seized her iPhone to gather evidence.  I sincerely hope criminal charges come from this, but a jail cell is too good this sociopathic freak.  But I suspect it’s the first time she’s actually been caught, so she’ll probably get a wrist slap and end up in a classroom elsewhere to prey on someone else’s kids.

Just last month bus driver Stephanie Wilkerson of Hillsborough County, Florida was charged with aggravated child abuse for kicking an 8 year-old autistic girl off her school bus in September 2012.  Literally kicking her off.  The girl rushed to get off the bus, and the good Ms. Wilkerson told her to wait her turn, the girl slapped the bus driver, who responded by kicking the girl in the back, propelling her to the ground, breaking her ankle.  It took four months for Ms. Wilkerson to be fired, and an additional two months to be charged with a crime—and there was video from a mounted camera in the bus so what happened was not in doubt.
Stephanie Wilkerson in mugshot...kicked an autistic child off her bus, breaking her ankle.
In Antioch, east of the San Francisco Bay, Theresa Allen-Caulboy is accused of physically and mentally abusing several autistic children in her class.  Three sets of parents have filed a lawsuit after the principal did not address multiple complaints by both parents and the school’s Speech and Language Pathologist that this teacher, and I use the word loosely, had been yelling at the children, calling them names, forcibly restraining them resulting in bruising, and choking and hitting them.  The lead plaintiff says his 5 year-old, non-verbal autistic son was repeatedly struck, thrown to the ground and poked in the face.  He says he called the school over 20 times to address his son’s behavioral changes, with no resolution.

The complaints include unexplained bruises, reported physical abuse, and an incident where Allen-Caulboy twisted a student’s nipple.  She was also overheard calling the children “retards”.  Incredibly, she was not suspended from her position until the middle of January 2013, after months of torturing these children.  No criminal charges of abuse have been filed to date.
This report about abuse of special needs kids is chilling...

An ACLU report entitled, "Impairing Education: Corporal Punishment of Students With Disabilities in U.S. Public Schools" (pdf) found that students with disabilities are more likely to be paddled than others and that some children are hit for exhibiting behaviors directly resulting from their disabilities.  The report documents the case of 6 year-old Landon, an autistic child in Mississippi, who was traumatized when struck with an inch-thick paddle by an assistant principal—an approved punishment.

Landon was terrified and lost control.  He was so upset by the paddling he had to be sedated by ambulance workers.  

We hear a lot about bullying by children and adolescents and the devastating effects this can have.  Isn’t it time to think about bullying by teachers, school administrators, bus drivers—ADULTS who are with our children?

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