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May 24, 2008

Survivor: Kindergarten-Style

Tn Send him to kindergarten or don't send him to kindergarten, that is the question. Recently I have been obsessing over whether to send my young son, who just turned five this month, to kindergarten next fall with the rest of his peers. Part of me really wants to keep him in preschool for an extra year.

See, my son is on the autism spectrum. And while he is very smart, reading and doing some math at age four, his social development (among other things) is behind that of other children his age. Lately I've had a lot of encouragement from his teachers and doctors to send him to kindergarten next year. And I've started leaning in that direction.

And then I read this. A kindergarten teacher in Port St. Lucie, Florida, led her students in a discussion of a child's negative qualities and then conducted a poll that resulted in his class voting 14-2 to kick him out of the class. The child, Alex Barton, is in the process of being diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

I cannot even describe my feelings when I read the first couple of blog posts I found on the subject. My concerns with sending my child to kindergarten stem largely from a fear that the other kids will ostracize him. The thought that a teacher would allow that to happen had occurred to me. The thought that a teacher would actively encourage, and even instigate it had not.

Apparently Alex had been disruptive and, as his punishment, the teacher made him stand in front of the class while his peers called him things such as "disgusting" and "annoying."

Not surprisingly, Alex is devastated and has not been back to school since.

Honestly, regardless of Alex's disability, this is reprehensible behavior by a teacher. Coupled with the disability, it is shockingly abusive.

And now I'm left wondering about my own child and his chances for success in kindergarten. I'm pretty sure none of the teachers at his school would engage in this type of behavior, but then again, I wouldn't have thought that any teacher would.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

Jean blogs about autism, and everything else having to do with her life, at Stimeyland.


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