Why won’t schools give autistic learners what they need — or let them keep the supports that help?
Sometimes, the stunning lack of understanding from our school boards leaves me speechless.
Especially when this happens:
• They create a fantastic IEP meant to provide just the right supports for a student who’s struggling.
• They actually provide all the supports — consistently and with the right approach.
• The student getting those supports does a complete 180° — gone is the anxious student who is struggling academically, replaced by a student who can and does do the work… perhaps they make the honor roll, even!
Sounds great, huh? At the risk of bursting your bubble, what often happens next is what is so frustrating:
• In response to this kind of student success, some schools, in their infinite wisdom, go, “Awesome! Our work here is done,” and they cut the supports that allowed the student to succeed.
As soon as the child is no longer having behaviors in the classroom, or two grades behind, the individualized, relevant, valuable support that was just so perfect gets yanked.
It’s hard to find the words to describe just how wrong this practice is. I wonder if some educators weren’t paying attention when they attended their “Autism 101” course.
That premise — that you support autistic students until you no longer “see” challenging behavior or academic struggles — is backward, wrong, uneducated and doing harm to the children.
Maybe we can start to bring these schools up to snuff.
Pass this on — supporting autistic students is really as easy as A, B, C once you wrap your head around this little reality:
Since autism is a unique way of learning and of experiencing the physical environment, once you figure out what the student needs, you provide it. And when by providing it you cause a profoundly positive change, you keep providing it.
Mind blown, right?
The supports our children need are (very often) not temporary measures: the instructional and assessment accommodations and highly trained staff are essential for them, not optional. These are the conditions under which these students can “access the curriculum” and feel safe and calm in the school setting.
If and when parents and professionals who are interested in the well-being of the child (rather than the school budget) determine that a support is no longer needed, then, and only then, should a plan be developed to taper the support and transition to the new expectations.
Agree? Don’t be silent.
We have to stop being bullied or flattered into accepting less than we know our children need.