25 September 2015

ACT Education failing autistic students

| bobb
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The Commonwealth Government has just released its final report on Evaluation of the More Support for Students with Disabilities Initiative 2012-2014. Sadly, the report shows that compared to most other states and territories, the ACT did very little to improve education outcomes for autistic students.

The number of Australian children formally diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is doubling every 5 years: more than 1 in 65 Australian children now has a diagnosis. Autism is the biggest distinct disability group in the NDIS.

Most autistic students experience difficulty at school.

Because education and employment outcomes are abysmal, autism costs the Australian economy an estimated $20 billion per year.

The report shows that most states took the opportunity to implement a range of programs to help autistic students who are mostly in public schools.

The report does not mention the ACT Government having any projects related specifically to autistic students.

This is consistent with the Minister’s concerns that autism advocates locally do “not speak on behalf or represent the entire autism community and [they are] particularly weathered to [behaviour science]” (link here, CT, 23/9/2015).

Bob Buckley, Chair of Speaking Out for Autism Spectrum Disorder (SOfASD) in the ACT, Convenor of Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) nationally and proudly “passionate advocate” for autism, said “there is little prospect of improving outcomes for autistic students in the ACT while the Education and Disability Minister keeps getting the same old advice and failing to engage with relevant parts of the autism community”.

“The ACT Government is failing autistic students”, he said.

Bob Buckley
Chair, Speaking Out for Autism Spectrum Disorder (SOfASD)

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wildturkeycanoe6:50 am 30 Sep 15

It isn’t just autistic children being neglected in public schools, gifted kids go pretty much unnoticed as well if our experience is not an isolated case.
For many years we have seen a disturbing trend where excellence is neither rewarded or recognized. Sure you have the awards assembly at the end of the year where the top of the class students receive their academic excellence certificates, but even that honor has been reduced to an after hours event where only the students’ parents and the other hard working kids get to share in their triumph. Meanwhile on an almost weekly basis we hear about the bullies, ratbags and disruptive little cretins who drag the entire school’s Naplan results into the ground, getting special honors every fortnight for “trying really hard”. These very same little “angels” are the ones who even on the same day of the school assembly they were held high in praise, had caused another student to cry through bullying or had been sent to time out for being disruptive. We’ve often been told how after getting into a state of “rage”, the poor little darlings are given an ipad and told to play games for 15 minutes. WHAT! They actually get rewarded for being bad? Yes, the system has gone mad. They have special camping trips with the teachers, whilst the rest of the kids who behave well wonder why they miss out on such fun.
Discipline is non-existent. Misbehaving students rule the playground and are encouraged to do so, knowing full well that they will get to do all kinds of fun things when caught out. Meanwhile, straight “A” model citizens go through the entire year putting up with this nonsense, working hard through the loud distractions, without the slightest congratulations and now losing the opportunity to show up their bullying classmates, receiving their prize in private so as to not upset the precious and fragile hearts of those who didn’t even try.
We have asked the school about furthering the opportunities for those who are finding the curriculum so easy they get bored and lose interest, but they said it wasn’t about advancing the abilities of the smarter kids but rather, keeping them back so that the “dumber” ones could catch up. It’s more a case of focusing on getting everybody up to the required level rather than pushing anybody beyond the bare minimum.
If we could afford it we’d go to a private school at the drop of a hat. Until the lottery numbers go our way, our children simply have to rely on us as parents to keep their minds from getting complacent and their envy of the troublemakers from overtaking their desire to do the best they can.

ACT Education is failing all students. The education system’s emphasis on catering to the needs of the poorly-behaved at the expense of those who are at school to actually learn has led to record low numbers of students even attending the public system, and this trend shows no sign of reversing.

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