I read this story yesterday and was shocked when I realized that our autistic son went to the very same school just two years back thankfully without incident. I certainly agree that the teachers should be removed from their jobs with disabled students and even possibly all students. A teacher should have the training and patience to deal with disabled students and at no time should a teacher ever condone or participate in verbal or physical abuse. These teachers have been accused of calling the incontinent child “a hippo” and “a beached whale” and this is simply atrocious when you also consider the child is non verbal and unable to defend or protect herself.
Words can certainly hurt as much and in some cases more than actions and saying these hateful things to a 7 year old child whom you are supposed to be teaching is just wrong. These are certainly grounds for termination regardless of tenure or seniority. Teachers should never call children names regardless of how petty they may seem. Verbal abuse is a form of bullying and child abuse and teachers are supposed to protect children.
There has been a lively discussion of the topic over at the OcalaMoms.com forums and I have voiced my opinion there as well. I think the teachers were wrong for their actions but there is some culpability on the parents as well. Parents have the responsibility of making sure children are prepared for the school environment and sending a non verbal, incontinent disabled child off to school is irresponsible. This child is unable to determine when bad things are happening and most definitely unable to defend herself or even able to report when bad things happen. The parent was forced to plant a recording device on the child in order to determine that her child was being abused because she sent a non verbal child to a public school system.
It does not matter that teachers and other students should respect the disabled child. What does matter is that this child was defenseless and unable to report that she was in danger. She was left alone in the world of people whom she could not trust in or communicate with. Is that responsible parenting? I do not think so. I think the parents were dumping their problems on the school board and hoping that someone else would educate and train their child. Basic speech and bathroom hygiene are not the responsibility of the teachers and school system. A parent should make sure that their child is safe at all times and sending a non verbal child to a public school is just not safe. At no time and in no place can children ever be totally safe but a non verbal child is even more at risk and leaving your child with strangers in a public place while your child is unable to speak is just dangerous.
As a parent of an autistic child I am very aware of how difficult it can be as a parent to work and raise a disabled child. I know how hard it can be to balance your work, school and personal life. Keeping a job is vital to the health of a family but teaching your child basic life skills such as speech and the ability to defend ones self are even more important. We took the steps to home school our autistic child until he was better prepared to deal with teachers and students and although he is considered delayed in his school performance his social skills are such that he is open to learning and thriving in the environment. Our son has been taught to recognize danger and he is well able to report any abuse he experiences. This is the responsibility of the parent and not the school board.
A teacher and teacher’s aide could lose their jobs for allegedly verbally abusing a 7-year-old autistic girl.
The incident was caught on tape.
The disabled girl who can’t speak attended Maplewood Elementary School.
Her mother told authorities she suspected something was wrong, so she put a tape recorder in her daughter’s backpack.
On the tape, school officials and sheriff’s deputies said you can hear teacher Rhoda Richardson and Deborah Adams, a teacher’s aide, calling the disabled girl a hippo and a beached whale.
Now the superintendent wants the women fired.