(Abuse, ableism tw) Yesterday I visited a preschool Portia’s therapists and the public education system want to put her in. Portia receives services because of her developmental disabilities. It’s a program that’s a part of public education and even infants can qualify. Before yesterday, it seemed her therapists only concern was making sure she was developmentally up to date physically, and educationally (think fine and gross motor skills, speech etc).
The preschool was-my realization. The preschool was full of kids that had various disabilities all on the “socially disabled” spectrum. Children were given directions in a “fun” manner around a circle and were literally forced to participle. Even if you didn’t want to. Physical redirection was used. That means children not looking at the teacher would had their heads physically turned towards them. Children who weren’t doing the arm movements for the dance correctly had their wrists grabbed and were forced to do the movements. Forced high fives. Forced everything. Absolutely no child had a choice for participation. It was do it or someone will grab your body and do it for you.
One child, a nonverbal autistic child, at the table where they were given instructions to glue hearts on a valentines box, had a stick of glue held in front of him by a therapist. She had a hold of his wrists as he kept reaching for it. “What is it. No. What is it.” She repeated over and over as he whimpered and reached for the glue to participate. This went on for about 15 minutes.
He also endured one on one ABA from the teacher using a reward only method (praise) for following instructions and making eye contact.
A child had a tantrum and was held down. I asked how a child having a melt down was usually handled. They said that it depended on the child. She seemed to avoid my question but told me that she had “lotion” that she would have them rub on their hands in front of the class and called it “calming lotion.”
I saw a child being held tightly in a therapists legs for not crossing his legs and bouncing them.
I asked what the purpose of the class was, my therapist explained this class was meant for “social therapy”, by forced participation.
This program is paid for and supported by the education district.
Never mind that restraining a child, forcing a child to do something, allowing an adult access to a children’s body with no choice for the child, and forced socialization and physical contact (forced high fives as an example) are all inappropriate and I would personally define that as abuse. But what’s important is all of this therapy is not scientifically to be successful. It’s…non effective, it does nothing but create children who believe they must follow orders (for participation, social activity etc) by an adult, allow anyone to touch their body with no ability to say no, and allow to be physically redirected by that adult for not meeting the demand.
In what way is this educating children socially? How come in a regular classroom this is abuse but in a class with a bunch of disabled kids it’s therapeutic? I’m just…I’m really irritated and disappointed that stuff like this is funded by the education system.
Im not sure if I should even mention this. But when you are an abused child initially you fight back. Sometimes that fighting back lasts a week, sometimes months, sometimes years. Eventually you reach this point where you stop fighting and your brain shuts down and you go blank, almost like you separate from your body and don’t reject it. Sometimes something twitches inside from time to time to fight back, but you actually end up fighting the urge to defend yourself rather than stopping the abuse. That’s the look I saw on the kids faces. They were made to hold up dolls with happy faces “I’m happy today” because they are being conditioned to just ACCEPT what is happening to them.
I am planning on pulling Portia completely from the entire program. She’s never been to that classroom and never will, but the moment they believe she isn’t socially “fit” and needs to be in some sort of conditioning class to make her appear normal, is the moment it doesn’t benefit her. Let’s be real for a minute: the autistic brain cannot be hard wired, it cannot be cured. This is because we still don’t fully understand what autism is. You can certainly force and autistic person to look and seem like an autistic person, and autistic adults who have experienced this sort of “conditioning” all have PTSD and more.
I literally do not ever care if Portia doesn’t act “normal” socially. I don’t care if she doesn’t look people in the eyes and I DEFINITELY do not care that she doesn’t want to touch anyone or let anyone touch her. I don’t care if she doesn’t want friends or if she likes people. I don’t care if she lines up her toys when she plays with them. I don’t expect a man without legs to run a marathon and I don’t expect Portia to be this social butterfly or become a politician or something. She’s content with who she is and society has the obligation to accept her the way they except a deaf person and sign language.
I’m just feeling very irritated. It’s 2017 and there was a whole room full of children enduring therapy that doesn’t actually work and scientifically has absolutely ZERO grounds to be used in an education system. I feel like it’s 1940 and they want to treat some house wife’s depression with electroshock therapy or some gay mans sexual attraction by giving him female hormones.
If I don’t speak out against it then 10, 20, 30 years later it will still be there. It will still happen.
Can you just pray for me, the work that’s required to pull her out…it isn’t going to be easy. I’m going to look like the crazy paranoid mother. In a lot of ways because of her disability she’s basically forced to be state educated. As crazy as this sounds I’m so scared of her being forced to go to public school I’ve thought about leaving the country. Ive personally witnessed so so much abuse in the schools towards autistic children…I just can’t accept it.