Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
Last February, when the news came out that a teacher who worked with kids who had autism dribbled hot sauce on a crayon to prevent a child from nibbling on them, I questioned whether it would be a good idea to have video cameras in special ed classrooms.
In recent years, I keep hearing stories about teacher abuse. Parents have been forced to wire up their kids with microphones for proof. One that made national headlines was the dad, Stuart Chaifetz, who put a digital record in his son’s pocket, which captured an aide and teacher saying things such as “Shut your mouth” and “Oh, Akian, you are a bastard.” Another dad who did the same caught the aide and teacher bullying his 14-year-old daughter with taunts like “Are you that damn dumb?” and “No wonder you don’t have friends.”
Now getting video cams into classrooms with kids who can’t speak or communicate well has become a mission for some parents around the country. They’re spreading the word via petitions, videos and letters to President Obama, including this change.org petition by a mom of a child with special needs who she says was a victim of physical and psychological abuse by a classroom aide.
Some groups have expressed concerns about privacy issues, notes this ABC News article, including the American Civil Liberties Union. Of course, closed-circut cameras in schools aren’t the definitive answer to the problem of abuse of kids with special needs. But it could help; given the number of cases cropping up, and you have to expect many more go undetected, safety measures are critical. While teachers have been caught with abuse it seems that there may be bigger issues with aides in classrooms, whose training and experience may not be up to par.
Even after teachers are caught they may not be fired; the teacher in the Akian Chaifetz case had tenure and was moved to another school.
Me, I’m all for this. What are your thoughts: Should video cameras be installed in classrooms where there are kids with special needs?
Image of teacher in classroom via Shutterstock
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Monday, August 20th, 2012
Back in February, I wrote about a special-needs teacher who doused crayons with hot sauce to prevent a kid with autism from putting them into his mouth. I considered it a form of abuse back then, and I still think it is. So did the Osceola County, Florida school district where Lilian Gomez worked: After her hot sauce method of discipline came out, she was fired from her job.
On Friday, a judge issued an order recommending that the district give her back her job, saying her behavior was “inappropriate” but that there was no proof she’d tried to punish the student. The final decision about her job will be up to the school board.
Gomez placed jumbo-sized crayons in a cup, poured hot sauce over them, and placed them in a bag with the student’s name. Her defense: “The intention was never to punish the child,” she said. She testified that she never put the crayons in the child’s mouth, and just wanted him to smell them.
I have zero objectivity here, as the parent of a child with special needs. But I do think that this is abusive. Even smelling a crayon with hot sauce can be very uncomfortable. If this child had sensory issues, as kids with autism often do, it could have been downright painful for him.
Can you imagine a teacher in a “typical” classroom ever trying this? It most likely would never happen, especially because a neurotypical kid would immediately rat out the teacher. Kids with autism and other special needs are more defenseless. Some don’t have the wherewithal to know that hot-sauce on crayons is a bad thing; some also lack the ability to speak.
I honestly don’t care what this teacher’s intentions were; I’m concerned about her idea of discipline. Yes, it can be very challenging to guide and protect children with special needs. But I say that deterring them with anything that makes them physically uncomfortable, or that could cause them pain, is abusive.
I do not think she should get her job back.
From my other blog:
You know better than to be racist–so why are you disablist?
Raising kids with special needs: The American cheese milestone
Kids with special needs: An awesome slideshow
Image: Screen grab/wftv video
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Hot sauce, Hot sauce on crayons, Lillian Gomez | Categories:
Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Children With Special Needs, Disability, Down Syndrome, Must Read, SPD, Special Needs, Special Needs Parenting, To The Max