ABOUT YOUR WORK AT SCHOOL:
- As someone with over 10 years experience in special education at a school in a large metropolitan area, what changes have you personally seen?
I have seen a dramatic increase in students with severe emotional-behavioral disorders. Many are violent, many are anxious and unable to focus or even sit still, and some seem to have no empathy or moral compass at all. We still see kids with typical autism traits, and other disabilities. But now it seems there are far more students with emotional instability.
- What types of behavior are most concerning for you as a teacher?
The explosive violence and emotional meltdowns that seem to come out of nowhere.While there have always been students who struggle with emotional regulation, it has now become so common that every classroom has one or two (or more) students who need constant monitoring. We have an on-call crisis intervention team that is summoned to de-escalate kids on a daily basis. The other students are regularly rushed out of the classroom to protect them from being harmed, which completely disrupts any attempts to teach or maintain a schedule.
- How are all these issues impacting teachers? What have you observed?
There is extreme fatigue and growing despair among teachers I have talked to. We find ourselves comparing bruises and horror stories over lunch, rather than talking about curriculum or our personal lives. Within the first two months of school this year, our program had to add staff to 8 different classroomsin order to handle the out-of-control students. We are constantly devising new strategies to deal with the ever-changing and increasingly violent behaviors, and the special education budget cannot cover all the needs.
- Do you see more students with an autism diagnosis?
I think the number continues to rise, but that’s partially due to the fact that many children are being “pigeon holed” into autism diagnoses. The staff wants to help these children, who clearly have issues. But I see many kids now with a diagnosis of “autism” that barely resemble what we used to see in cases of classic autism. Many are social, intelligent, and well-spoken. They don’t have stereotypical or repetitive behaviors. What they do have is extreme oppositional behavior, emotional instability, anxiety, rage, ADHD traits, depression, and violent outbursts.
ABOUT YOU AS A PARENT:
- Explain your son’s situation.
My son is in a post-high school transition program for kids with disabilities. This is his final year, so he’s part of that initial “tsunami” of vaccine-injured adults that will soon be exiting the public education system. You have been talking about this tsunami for years, but I don’t think the state and federal human services departments have taken heed. It’s going to be very ugly when there is no longer a place for all these kids to go.
When my son started in his transition program, there were 28 young adults attending his location. I knew roughly half of the kids and their parents, since the program had two high schools that fed into it. I was astounded when I realized that there were 7 kids (just among those I knew) whose parents reported they had sustained their disabilities from vaccines.I know there are likely other vaccine-injured students in the program, but even if not – we are talking about 25% disabled by vaccines!
Not even considering the devastating human toll those 7 vaccine injuries took on these kids and their families, I find myself thinking about the cost to society. Special education services, including summer programming, for up to 18 years per student.Medical Assistance, waivers, SSI and other government funding programs.The loss of productivity and contribution to the workforce for those who are unable to hold a job.The loss of income for the parents who had to quit their jobs to become full-time caregivers for their children. And the list goes on. Knowing that at least ONE in every FOUR of the kids in my son’s class could have been saved a life of disability is absolutely tragic.
- How has the school system prepared your son for independent living as an adult?
I think they’ve done the best they can, but the schools can only do so much. There are SO many disabled students now, and teachers are spread extremely thin. The school has helped my son obtain jobs in the past, but this year there just haven’t been any opportunities for him to work at a paying job.He requires a lot of support, and a low-stress environment.
For independent living skills, the issue has always been that every child (or young adult) is at a different cognitive level, so in order to effectively teach specific skills the schools would need one-on-one staff to train each student. Special Education costs have skyrocketed in recent years, and there still isn’t enough money or manpower to effectively teach many of these kids through traditional methods.
- What do you want to be there for your son?
I know it will be a shock when the bus stops coming for the first time in 16 years. I think the social aspect of school will be missed the most – the daily routine of getting him up to go out and participate in activities with people who care about him.
I guess what I want for my son is what I’ve always wanted. For him to be happy, healthy, and pain-free. I want him to love and be loved. I want him to be a contributing member of society.
And if I were to really wish for the stars I would want our government to finally acknowledge that it was their own malfeasance that caused my son’s permanent disability.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.