I continue to be both perplexed and quite exasperated about the seemingly higher and going higher incidence of autism in America today.
Autism is such a terrible and quite devastating impact on those children and their families who have been diagnosed with autism and have already in so many words almost ensured that child difficulty in school, while also making the raising of that child even more problematic for the autism child's parents and, to a certain extent, the child teachers in school.
Especially when the prevalence of autism today seems to be, incredibly, little more than 100 to 1.
This is why I was particularly drawn to the story of a northern New Jersey father who, after receiving no assistance from the son's school system for his autistic son's school problems, became his own son's "private investigator."
After piecing the story together of how the boy with autism's son's father was able to go "undercover" at his son's school, from both a combination of newspaper and local television talk shows in northern New Jersey, here is what the autistic son's father, was able to put together quite convincingly with his concealed audio recovery system.
When the son with autism's father sent his 10-year-old son to his elementary school in New Jersey wearing a hidden audio recorder, he could not have predicted in his wildest dreams what he would uncover.
The move came in reaction to accusations from the school that his son was having violent outbursts, including hitting his teacher and a teacher's aide.
Moreover, since he and his wife knew that those claims against his son's "sweet and non-violent" nature could literally "brand" their son to a life of educational, employment and community disappointments and the like, they had to work now on finding a way to disprove and otherwise put to bed once and for all these accusations.
The autistic son's father, after several days of his "undercover" work, had compiled audio tapes that both contained and proved numerous cases of clearly verbal and emotional abuse from his son's classroom aide and teacher - the original school "officials" who had levied those charges - resulting in the almost immediate suspension of both, with their final disposition being the dismissal of both "educators" from their respective school systems shortly thereafter.
In addition to the abusive language that these two "educators" had regularly used against this autistic - and other special needs - students, the undercover father also recorded these two "educators" engaging in inappropriate conversations, like laughing about their alcohol abuse and their sex lives in front of their students - all of whom were certainly at risk when exposed to this kind of open and quite inappropriate language.
Speaking in one of his local television station's morning discussion talk shows, this father noted that, "You would never get away with talking about your alcohol abuse or sex lives the night before if this was a mainstream class."
He punctuated his comment by suggesting, "And that's the point, isn't it? They knew that probably none of these kids would go home and tell their parents that the person who ran their class was still under the influence of alcohol, had hangovers, and were even throwing up from time to time during the day, but, 'Heck.' As one of the two had clearly said on the tape, 'It was OK with her because the sex was great.'"
In a way, I guess that his actions do suggest that you can fight city hall.
Just make sure that you have gathered your evidence properly and then presented your findings and evidence in accordance with your system's established protocols.
Then ... go for it, and ... good luck.
Paul Rendine is chair of the Disability Advocates of Delmarva Inc. group. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments, suggestions or questions.