Autistic child railroaded out of attending school

Dear Editor,
My child has a disability. A mental disability, high functioning Autism otherwise known as Asperger’s. This letter is in response to rumours about my child and the situation my child has been put into by Clearview School Division.
Children with Autism have a lack of understanding of social skills and have difficulties using their expressive language.
These children also will escalate more than the average person when frustrated. In my child’s case this means he will yell loudly and swear. The escalations are often related to an underlying issue.
There is a plan in place at home and at the school to help my child avoid these outbursts. My child regularly sees an Autism Specialist. These outbursts now rarely occur.  In the past 11 years (including play-school) only twice has Clearview School Division attended any meetings with my child’s specialist although they have been invited to all of them.
My child found himself in a locker room situation at basketball tournament at the beginning of January. As parents we were not notified of the situation. A few days later at basketball practice the situation was brought up with my child.
The basketball coach (a parent volunteer who was not told by Clearview of his diagnosis) and a teacher approached my child in regards of the situation.
My child went to use his exit strategies that were in place for him as part of his individual program plan. Three times he was denied. This lead to my child making a comment that he should not have made, out of frustration.
This was the first time we were made aware of the situation.
The following day my child was extremely frustrated over an incident where he expressed his frustration by yelling and swearing. He left the school.
I personally know of several adults who use this strategy of walking away until in a calmer state.
At no time did my child ever hit staff or other students, no choking of other students, and no throwing of objects at staff or students.
January is a month which is full of anxiety for my child. I discussed this with administration however this information appears not to be passed onto staff. If it had been, the incident that lead to my child having an outburst may have been avoided.
My child received a letter of suspension for the basketball season.
What we could not understand was why he was being punished for trying to use his exit strategies, of which he was refused, therefore leading him to make a comment.
My son has tried several times to discuss with administration on his own what had happened but was denied the opportunity to be heard.  All he wants is an explanation of why no one will believe him and why he is being punished for a comment when he tried to use his exit strategy.
When we asked to meet with administration and the school division psychologist to discuss the situation, it turned into a meeting of four people to ten. Instead of discussing the issue my child was having, we were told point blank that my child would not longer be able to attend the second semester of school.
He was sent home with a chrome book and told to do one course.
At this meeting I asked why we were not informed of the basketball incident, why the parent volunteer was not told of my sons diagnosis?
No sufficient answers were given. We were also told that they would provide the bare minimum classes my child would need to enter the trade he wishes to enter.
After writing a letter to the Minister of Education, Clearview Administration retracted saying he could attend outreach but with no support.
My son requires educational support.
At this point I contacted the Superintendent to arrange a meeting. At this meeting we tried to address our concerns.
I pointed out that my son has a disability, part of  which is outbursts.  I also pointed out that several students in Alberta who have the same diagnosis who have not been kicked out of the school when they have an outburst.
We tried to address the initial locker room situation. I point blank asked if there had been any follow up because of the difference of the situation as seen by my son and Clearview.
We were told no.
When we asked, yet again, why we were not contacted in regards to the situation in the locker room and why my son was not allowed to use his exit strategies?
Again we received no answers. We were told that Clearview has bent over backwards trying to accommodate my son, to which I pointed out several areas where they have not.
I was told that there are some staff and students who are afraid of my son. It is interesting to note that  he still meets his friends for lunch. He is still allowed to attend archery tournaments with staff and students.
A child with Autism has outbursts. What is needed is understanding.
Imagine seeing a person having an epileptic seizure for the first time. Yes, you might be  scared but with education on the matter you become knowledgeable of the condition.
My child has a medical mental diagnosis/disability. This school division has been aware of it since play-school. There needs to be more education done. After all, that is what school is about.
I requested that Dynamic Development Psychological Services be contacted to assist with school with my son since my son’s Autism Specialist is out on medical leave.
We were flatly denied.
There was no willingness to discuss the incident that  led up to my child’s outburst.
If you go to Alberta Education website there is a section called Positive Behaviour Supports. It clearly states “ the support strategy should look at root causes of a student’s problem behaviour.” This has not been allowed to happen in my son’s case.
My child is currently not attending school under physician orders (as Clearview’s decision led to my child’s downward spiral) until Clearview School Division can put into place a proper plan that will be followed to allow my son success at school.
I have had to contact Alberta Education about my son being railroaded into not attending school.
Basically my child has not attended school the past five weeks. He has been allowed to attend archery. This is the second time in two years that a plan has been in place for my son that has not been followed, the result being my son having outbursts that could have been avoided or at least downgraded.
Clearview is refusing to acknowledge that part of my son’s disability is outbursts. Out of sight out of mind, is their new policy.
Tara Muhlbeier
Castor, Ab.

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