HomeabuseAre We Already Repeating History in Our Schools?

“Do you really think we’re doomed to repeat mistakes if we don’t remember them?”

That’s the prompt for today. It’s an interesting question, and one with different answers, depending on the situation at hand.

When applied to this dyslexic’s poor spelling, the mistakes in the writing arena are rarely the same. There are quite a few words that end up spelled differently every time I try to write them down. The phenomenon expands into procedure based tasks, and finding my way around places I’ve been there before.

I don’t know if that type of forgetting is really a repetition of mistakes, since I make different mistakes each time. That, of course, leads to people viewing me as lazy or stupid.

In the case of history, however, I can see how the answer to that question can be “yes”.

By National Library of Ireland on The Commons (Asylum  Uploaded by russavia) [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

Look at the history of institutionalizing those with disabilities like autism, and behavioral problems developed over the course of terrible treatment of learning disabilities. These folks were put away in asylums, because they were viewed as mentally ill. While I’m confident the motivation of most families was to give their loved one treatment for their disorders, I’m sure others did it to get these “problem people” out of the way.

If all the families with questionable motives needed to do is throw money at an organization to make the “sick” person someone else’s problem, why not do it?

That’s the first thing I think of once I get beyond the rage and hurt hearing about young autistic and other “problem” students being arrested at schools when their teachers call the police to handle them. They’re making this little person someone else’s problem.

I realize that needing to deal with violent meltdowns is frightening and can result in injuries, but I also realize not all teachers remember steps put in place in the child’s IEP, if the proper steps are there to begin with. Teachers are also under a huge amount of stress to address the needs of all students, on top of sticking to the curriculum and meeting a mind boggling array of district, state and federal requirements.

One part of the real problem is the system under which they must operate. Another is the wide spread misunderstanding of autism, and how to address the needs of those who are on its spectrum. Yet another is the lack of resources available for these types of emergency interventions.

There’s also the incredible struggle many parents face in finding proper therapy for their autistic children in the first place, and the individual students’ ability to cope with whatever situation they find themselves in.

Not all behavioral issues acted out by kids on the spectrum are meltdowns, and they must be disciplined of they willfully act out, but is having them hauled off by the police really the right answer?

Then again, now that I do a bit more research into the issue, I’ve found that schools have been calling the police to deal with student behavioral issues since at least 1975. So, maybe I’m further off about the idea of administration forgetting the harm institutionalism and segregation does.

This article on the Wright’s Law web page has some good information on what to do if your kid is wrongfully arrested, by the way.

That said, I do sometimes wonder if some schools are like institutions in and of themselves. I went to a pretty decent public school, but there were times when it felt more like I was being punished than educated. The color scheme for our high school was even inspired by the way some jails are decorated.

Personal anecdotes aside, there have been a distressing number of news stories about teachers being persecuted for physically abusing autistic students. (Kindergarten teacher in NC, Virginia teachers at autism school, Special education teacher from SC. These are all stories from this and last year.)

Is this another version of history repeating itself?

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