The Washington Post recently reported that a 10 year old boy with Autism was arrested at his school for a 3rd degree felony charge.
I read this story with great interest as a parent of a child with Autism and as an educator. The story is no doubt incomplete. There is always more information than what the public is given. One thing is for sure, getting upset or offended by the vile comments made by those with little understanding or compassion would be futile. I’m here to educate and foster constructive dialogue.
No two individuals on the spectrum are alike. For example, some cannot communicate verbally, while others, like the 10 year old at the center of the report, can verbalize quite well. And, yes, just like the boy does in the video, that may include dropping the proverbial “f-bomb”. But I hear that from neurotypical students every day. So, it’s inconsequential to the story as far as I’m concerned. I am more concerned how instances like these, as outrageous as they are, can serve as a learning opportunity for all.
While we cannot ignore the “throw ’em in jail” attitude when dealing with difficult students. Our culture has a long history of this easy way out. But this incident, like most, was likely avoidable. It highlights the need to better train our public educators and to cultivate a greater understanding in the hearts and minds of the general public on the subjects of Autism and neurodiversity. A properly trained educator will better detect the triggers that can lead to a tantrum, meltdown, or an aggressive episode.
This is an opportunity for understanding and new learning -not judgment. My prayers are with the boy, his mother, as well as the educators involved.