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Should my son be discriminated from preschool because of Autism????

By mitcore - 6 February 2010 47

Hi all, it has been a long time since i have posted here

I am posting this today to get advice or find out the laws for discriminating an autistic child from entering main stream preschool, I was told by the deputy principle that my 4  yr son shouldnt be entering pre school until term 3 or even term 4.

They did not give a reason on why this is to happen, I had his preschool teacher, very rudely comment that it would be better for her because she needs to settle her *normal* children into preschool, she has another special need child attending her class and from what i know there is no issue for that child to attend in term 1, (this statement has angered me and i have been trying to find out what the laws are for discrimination),

I do have to say my son is not toliet trainned and from what i have been told they can not stop him from entering mainstream school because of this, my 4 yr old son is newly diagnosesed with autism and i am now feeling that i am fighting for him to be able to do what other children are doing, he attends an EIU with no issues to the lack of toilet training, he is not able to socialise with other children, but should this be an excuse for him not to attend????

I say no, he has a very good understanding on what is asked of him and will do most requests when asked for, has anyone else suffered like this, if so can you pls tell me what to do and where i stand as far as the laws are concerned

Thank you all for reading

cheers mitcore

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47 Responses to
Should my son be discriminated from preschool because of Autism????
eh_steve 1:38 pm 07 Feb 10

Try checking if there are any mainstream schools that specialise in catering to students with special needs, I’m pretty sure Turner school is one of those, and Isabella Plains Early Childhood School definitely has a program for autistic students.

Definitely get in touch with the Ed Department, just call Canberra Connect to find the right area.

grump 1:37 pm 07 Feb 10

Can’t be easy having an autistic child but build a bridge and, you know the rest.

Get out of the poor me syndrome and expecting special treatment. Your child is not like the rest and has special needs – it’s your resposnibility to get him toilet trained like everyone else has to – so he starts later but get that done and stop whinging. Neither teachers nor other children should be expected to accommodate, at this stage, your child’s unpreparedness.

oh, and it’s “discriminating against” not “discriminated from”

Jim Jones 1:23 pm 07 Feb 10

I agree with most of the posters here. Sad that some seem to immediately treat anyone involved in the education sector as ‘the enemy’ (the same kind of attitude so prominently displayed in any discussion of the myschool website).

I can understand why you’d be angry. But the ‘discrimination’ that is occurring here doesn’t sound malicious or bigoted, the simple fact is that the bulk of government funded mainstream pre-schools simply won’t have the resources or the expertise to be able to adequately meet your child’s needs while attending to the needs of the other children.

It’s all too easy to take solace by retreating to the idea that it’s unfair and that your child has a right to go to preschool like everyone else – but it you hamfistedly force this through, it will be to the detriment of everyone: the other children in the preschool, the teachers, your child and yourself.

For the record, I have friends with autistic children and have seen at close hand what can be involved with coping with this sort of challenge.

Obviously, as well as contacting DEST to see what sort of additional resources might be available, you should contact: http://www.autismaus.com.au/

I-filed 11:07 am 07 Feb 10

The needs of all the children involved need to be taken into account – the other children have the right to a productive and calm environment. If your son is newly diagnosed, and isn’t toilet trained, wouldn’t it make sense to proceed in a measured way, see incontinence specialists, frame up an action plan (you’ll need to speak bureaucratese) and get the education department on your side? If your real need is for respite care, that’s a separate issue at the moment – are you sure your own desperate needs aren’t being muddied with those of your son?

Calling in legislation and getting them all offside will inevitably lead to a bad outcome. It sounds as though you need quite some guidance from parents who have learnt how to negotiate the system.

If your son is going to exhibit behaviours that are persistently distressing to the other children, and occupy a disproportionate amount of the teacher’s time, then you’d have to sympathise with the deputy principal for taking fright a little.

If your son won’t be able to socialise with the other children, would it make more sense to place him in an intensive therapy situation initially, until he can interact somewhat? I think there’s a model in Queensland.

Unfortunately, you risk a pyrrhic victory here – an in principle endorsement of your son’s rights – and a judicial/administrative decision that there is no realistic chance of the relationship with that school mending, so no decision to over-rule the principal.

astrojax 9:55 am 07 Feb 10

one would hope the deputy & principal would discriminate – i don’t mean that in the pejorative, rather that s/he should be able to discriminate which children need what level of care – and if their school isn’t geared up for your child’s needs then they need to be frank. doesn’t excuse rudeness, of course.

i have done some work in a centre who’s research was based around the autism spectrum and i have every sympathy for you – with a still v. young infant i am hoping every day he will be a neuro-normal, but if not, then i know i will have a battle on my hands to have him accepted for who he is/will be…

swamiOFswank 9:48 am 07 Feb 10

Speaking from experience – although not closely connected with Autism, there are a couple of things I’d like to say to you, Mitcore.

a) The sad reality is that depending on the severity of your son’s Autism, you ARE going to have to fight for services – probably for at least the next 20 years.

b) You really will want people around you who can help. There’s a fine line between advocating for your son, and becoming an aggressive, angry psycho-parent that people who can help, recoil from. Keep it positive, polite and avoid threats of litigation. Keep the ‘discrimination’ button for pressing in a bigger emergency than you have right now (you’re bound to have one). The system stinks, but people will help…if you can keep it positive.

c) You’re not alone! Join some Autism support groups – including online. There are great resources available, with behaviour management and socialisation strategies and techniques you can begin to implement yourself. Having the support of other parents facing similar issues may just keep you sane.

I wish you all the best – and a perspective that will keep you focused on meeting your sons needs, yet with objectivity, and an acceptance that MOST people have you and your son’s best interests at heart.

trevar 8:47 am 07 Feb 10

bd84’s advice to get hold of someone at DET (I suggest someone in Student Support) who can advise you on what you can and can’t expect is very wise. I suspect that, if your son would be as big a handful for staff as other posters are suggesting, there is probably funding available for a teacher’s aide to allow for his inclusion. Education departments in all jurisdictions in Australia have an inclusion policy on children with special needs, so I would try to find out about how they put their inclusion policy into effect. I know, for instance that pre-school students with Autism have access to an ‘Autism Intervention Unit’ IN ADDITION to pre-school.

On the other hand, the toilet training issue is not a small one. My boy is starting pre-school this year, and he only got out of nappies very recently; until then we were worried that he might miss pre-school as they simply wouldn’t take him unless he was toileting (which is fair enough).

I think that you should be able to expect that your school should not discriminate between your son and another child with special needs on the basis of a condition like autism, but that they may reasonably discriminate between a child who is toilet-trained and one who is not. You probably need to try to get a clearer picture of your principal’s concerns, as well as your/your son’s rights.

Jerry Atric 8:25 am 07 Feb 10

It should be remembered that autism is a “spectrum” disorder which in individuals can range from mild behavioural difficulties (not problems)to major disfunction – non verbal, aggression, lack of toilet control etc. Each autistic child is different and each needs individual assessment to recognise his (usually) or her needs. Often this may be a special school.

Solicitors and attacks on authorities are totally counter productive.

Autistic children have a special place in this life. Try not to be disappointed that he doesn’t fit into an everyday mold and have joy in his particular personality, though I know that it can be hard sometimes.

I have an autistic grandson.

georgesgenitals 7:14 am 07 Feb 10

I think it’s worth considering that the deputy principal may know what they’re talking about. It could well be that that simply can’t give your son the care he needs if they aren’t geared up for it. Also, if your son is not toilet trained, and doesn’t socialise with other children, it may be that he will have a hard time from the other children, and he needs to extra 6 or so months to overcome the toilet training issue (at least).

Perhaps instead of trying to find laws that support you in forcing the school to do what you want, you could try working the school and asking for advice and references to other education and health professionals who can help you. To what level is your son autistic? I understand there can be a wide range in what is considered autistic.

I know this must be a really difficult issue and time for you. I really hope you find a good solution. Let us know how you go.

urchin 1:19 am 07 Feb 10

hi mitcore,

my son, unlike many canberran kids, has never been to daycare and has no “socialisation” experience either (beyond his older brother) so it sounds like discrimination (that is, it suits the needs of the teacher more than the needs of the child) to me. though obviously i don’t know all the details.

having said that, while i agree with you on principle and while i think a “stink raising” is eminently justified, i don’t want to put my kids into a school that doesn’t want to have him. i am sure that there are many other schools out there that would love to have your child join them–i would go for a school that will embrace your child rather than one that will take him only under threat of litigation, etc.. if you live in the inner north area o’connor cooperative is an *excellent* facility with small student numbers and highly personalised care. at least it was when my eldest attended.

if you are going to go after punishing the deputy principle (go for it, i say) probably talking to the dept. of education will be faster and more effective than a lawyer. if you get a lawyer and file a lawsuit everyone in the dept. of education will be your enemy. if you talk with the minister of education and suggest that a lawsuit will be commenced if things aren’t changed, i imagine you will see some immediate action.

i would also suggest trying to find various support groups that must exist for the parents of autistic children and see what other parents who have already endured this bullshit attitude have to say. no doubt they will be the best ones to talk to about which schools are most accepting.

bd84 1:08 am 07 Feb 10

The education department be the first place of call, given that the run the school system and make the ultimate decisions. I would think that there would be a limit on where children with a disability could be placed and the number of students with a disability at each school based on the facilities and resources, in particular having teachers for the students. I would think that these are the most likely reasons for the responses that you may have misunderstood.

deezagood 12:19 am 07 Feb 10

There was a clear policy at our preschool that all kids must be toilet trained prior to commencement. One teacher has responsibility for 24 x 4 year olds; so I’m thinking that it would be difficult to attend to cleaning up one child throughout the day whilst the other 23 remain unsupervised? Might be a practical issue, rather than one of discrimination.

Morgan 11:33 pm 06 Feb 10

A preschool is not a daycare centre. With class sizes and the staffing arrangements if he is not toilet trained he cant go to school. Its as simple as that.

vg 11:24 pm 06 Feb 10

This is the last place I’d be asking for legal advice. Speak to a solicitor or legal aid

T1G3R 10:59 pm 06 Feb 10

Mmmm, I am no expert but how autistic is your child? From my experience autistic children can be quite a handful, especially when some hit puberty and can lash out. They also require a lot of attention and may have a personal aid with them.

Maybe they like to place your child later in the year so they can have all the other children settled so then they can focus on yours with more ease. Instead of trying to handle all 25 or so kids at once.

I recommend you seek out some local organisations or groups for autistic children and possibly get a second opinion from other schools and make sure whichever school you put your child in, that it is adequate to his needs.

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