Should children with autism be allowed to access the same early learning and education facilities as kids living sans the spectrum disorder? It’s a concept called mainstreaming and its efficacy was questioned in federal parliament on Wednesday 21 June 2017 by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party’s Queensland senator Pauline Hanson.
“These kids have a right to an education by all means,” Hanson said. “But if there is a number of them, these children should go into a special classroom and be given that special attention because most of the time the teachers spend so much time on them.
“If it was one of my children I would love all the time given to them to them those opportunities but is it at the loss of our other kids?
“It’s no good saying, ‘We’ve got to allow these kids to feel good about themselves and we don’t want to upset them and make them feel hurt’ – and I understand that – but we have to be realistic at times and consider the impact that it is having on other children in that classroom.”
Hanson’s comments inter alia were gainsaid with opprobrium by Stephanie Gotlib, chief executive officer of Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA). Listen here to ELR’s chat with Gotlib for the totality of her thoughts:
ELR also interfaced with Dr Claire Spivakovsky from Monash University’s School of Social Sciences about this issue. “All children and young people with disability should be included in mainstream schools and classrooms,” Spivakovsky said.
ELR enquired as to why.
“Schools are the places where we teach our kids about how society works, where we learn the foundations for our adult lives and how we treat others,” she answered. “When we exclude children and young people with disability from mainstream schools and classrooms we are sending a very strong and incorrect message that its okay to exclude people with disability from society.
“Wanting to exclude children and young people with disability from mainstream schools and classrooms is just another example of the many ways that we devalue the lives and experiences of people with disability, and it needs to change.”
Autism is a spectrum disorder, ELR posited: is there a point on the continuum where this view changes in any way?
“No, my view doesn’t change. There is lots of education research that tells us that all children and young people with disability can access and succeed in the classroom if they are provided with with appropriate adjustments and supports.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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