Monday, September 5, 2011

How the System has Failed

Since 1989 I have had the privilege of getting to know someone with Asperger's. And to be honest, there are a lot of ups and downs. (And no, I'm not sugar coating this just because I know she will read it...)

When my sister was diagnosed with AS at about 8 years old, she was the only female in the Durham Region school board with it. Also, there weren't a lot of cases of AS in the area at all. Still doesn't really excuse how she was treated - 8 schools from JK to 12, simply because the administrators didn't want to handle her.

I recall one incident, when she was in SK. I was walking out of the school to catch the bus home and she came running up to me, crying. She wasn't allowed to leave until she could tie her shoelaces, I was told. All the other kids could tie theirs, why couldn't she tie hers? I took her little 6 year old hand and walked her out of the school. At 16, she finally learned to tie her shoes, but only after many more comments from people who make it a habit of passing judgement on others without fact finding first. (Such as the woman at the store who called her a "spoiled princess" when my mom stooped to tie her boot laces when she was 12.)

Fast forward over the years... She learned that if she didn't want to go to school, she could kick up a stink at school and wouldn't have to go. When she did want to go to school, the adults learned that they could push her buttons and she wouldn't want to go for very long.

These are the adults that kids are told to trust. If you cannot trust them, who else is there?

I have learned over the last two decades that the old cliched saying "the more things change, the more they stay the same" is one hundred percent true when paired with school board bureaucracy. The more kids are diagnosed with what are considered "invisible disabilities", the more training administrators and their staff can receive, the more we watch in the news about how blatantly ignorant they all still are. The only thing that has changed is that the media makes sure that what happens isn't hidden from the rest of the public.

The other day when I read this article, I was disturbed by the situation. What I can't understand is why the daycare let the situation escalate so far out of control that the police were actually needed.

Click here to go the article.

There are so many resources that can be made available to people who truly WANT to help children. Instead we medicate the child so they behave. We tell them to sit down, sit still, stop talking so much. Behave like everyone else.

How can a child like this grow into an individual and discover themselves when they are told to be like everyone else?

Do we not owe our children more?

Click here to learn more about Asperger's from the Aspergers Society of Ontario


  1. you know, I read this and I am reminded of something I once heard, don't ask me where or from whom, but it runs along the same lines.
    Children when they start colouring are blissfully ignorant. Their pictures are posted proudly on fridges, no matter what they look like. Then we start imposing rules, stifling creativity. You can't colour outside the lines, the sky should be blue, the grass should be green, no you can't have a blue dog, or a purple cat. We want our kids to be creative but as soon as they start school, they are told their creativity is WRONG.

  2. Hey Maurene,

    Thanks for reading!

    I agree with you. Talk about mixed messages that we send to our kids...

    I clearly recall the instant I learned that we do NOT color willy nilly on the paper. It was brought home with a spank (not from my parents - from the baby sitter). I also recalling panicking in the first grade because my tree didn't look the way the teacher wanted it to. I ended up standing in the corner an awful lot that year.

  3. My Highschool teacher was #1