Yesterday I posted a video on Facebook about a 6-year-old autistic child that was bullied in front of a crowd of people. When I saw the video for the first time, my heart sank and I began to cry. The second time I watched the video, I became very angry.
It was the finale of a Thanksgiving concert at an elementary school. Children were saying their final lines. When the child with autism was about to speak, his teacher grabbed the microphone from him. He was trying to say “gobble gobble” and was visibly upset. The audience began to laugh. Not one person came to his aid.
This behavior is unacceptable. I’ve always said that if you are called to teach it is in your heart. If you are a special education teacher, you answered a deeper calling. There are teachers that are wonderful in the classroom with all children. Then we have teachers like this teacher who clearly doesn’t understand inclusion, empathy, love. common sense…….
I am Sydney’s voice. I am the voice of the children in my class. I will not stop until I make sure that Sydney is treated as an equal and included, not stuck in a room without windows. Just when I thought we were making progress, something like this happens.
I tried to think about what would I have done if that was Sydney. Would I grab the microphone from the teacher, get the attention of the crowd and let Sydney say “gobble gobble “and break out into a song? Would I have used that as a teachable moment to educate children and adults on living with autism? Would I have pulled that teacher aside and gave her some Brooke Copher knowledge with a smile on my face? Let me tell you what I won’t do.
I won’t be silent. I won’t let people treat Sydney like she is less than any other child. I won’t stop talking with her teachers, calling IEP meetings, working on her goals, giving her opportunities to let her talents shine. I won’t be silent. Special need parents we need to share our lives with the world. They need to see us out in the community. Parents needs to teach empathy and acceptance at home.
Embrace Autism one child at a time. Will you join me? Or will you stand by and be silent?