The discrimination you hate but should really learn to appreciate

It’s back to school time which raises a lot of emotions as well as a lot of concerns. Rightfully so.. it’s a rough transition to go through.

As such, the media lights up and bloggers all start to sing in harmony about the troubles, struggles and issues pertaining to “back to school” time.

One such issue that I’ve been hearing a lot about is discrimination… not that some children discriminate against other children but that of the schools or teachers themselves.

The Problem

What we find is that a lot of schools or day care providers are unwilling to even accept children with special needs, or if they do, they do not treat those children fairly. They don’t provide them the leniency they require or the special attention they need.

In some cases, the children aren’t cared for properly nor treated properly either.

Welcomed Discrimination

discriminationIt’s rather painful to accept but honestly, I’d rather that children were not accepted into schools or day cares if those people are not trained, not equipped or otherwise unable to treat those children properly.

When I read about the nine year old that was locked in a room and then hand cuffed by police while at day care, I stop and wonder… could it have turned out very differently? Not better… but differently? Think about this:

If the day care provider had refused to take the child in the first place, would there have been a news story about discrimination against Autism?

Perspective Discrimination

I read all the time about Canada refusing to let in children that have Autism, sometimes the whole family is denied. That is so very wrong. It angers me.

But it’s not that they are turning them away that makes me upset. It’s that Canada recognizes it’s own inability to care for any more children than it already has and is doing nothing about it.

In fact, Canada is unable to care for the number of children it already has… current wait lists are proof enough of that.

But now, when people try to bring their children into the country, they’re turned away because the government deems them a burden on an already failing system.

And it is. It’s failing. It’s not keeping up with demands.

And it knows it. It turns away children because of it.

And it’s doing nothing about it.

The schools are trying, but the funding isn’t there. The police are trying, but the funding isn’t there.

There is discrimination but it’s not by the teachers, or the day care providers, or the schools or the police… it’s by a system that knows that it isn’t doing a good enough job and yet does nothing about it.


So when a child is turned away… don’t get mad at them. They’re doing their best with what they have and they know that if they do take your child, your child won’t receive the service that they need and then that will be what gets into the news.

When that teacher or day care or school fails that child, there will be hell to pay and it won’t be the government that takes it, it’ll be them. Despite there attempts at doing their best and getting themselves in over their heads… they’ll falter because they don’t know any better, or don’t have the resources, or the training or man power… a child will get hurt, or lost or put into hand cuffs…. and they’ll be dragged through the coals for it.

It’s either that…  or discriminate against Autism.

I’ll pass on the hand cuffs… I’ll take the discrimination.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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10 Responses to The discrimination you hate but should really learn to appreciate

  1. Joyce Lindsey September 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    You are right that if the choices are mistreatment by untrained personnel or discrimination, then we must choose discrimination. But do we really need to choose discrimination? Why accept that staus quo? Demand that these people get training or help them obtain the training…this population (and the population of children with disabilities) is growing. They will need to be serviced somewhere.

    Churches have been contacting our group to train their workers so that they can have a special needs class so that their families can still attend church. These people/children deserve a place in our communities. Let’s help them find a place of belonging.

    Joyce Lindsey
    President, Special Needs Children’s Council
    Formerly Lee’s Summit Autism Support Group
    Educational Advocate

  2. Jennie B September 7, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    I agree with Joyce. I am thankful that my son has a wonderful special day class to attend. He needs that. But he also needs to be a part of the larger community.

    So many of our kids are able to function in a mainstream environment if they have the right support. Isn’t that the law? And isn’t that their right as human beings?

  3. Susan Ford Keller September 8, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    Totally in accord with the first 2 commenters. Two bad choices are not acceptable. We all need to work to make it better. Get off your duff, Stuart, get your certification in child care, and open a special needs child care center or an inclusive child care center. That’s what I’m working towards. I work in child care right now. We get trainings on working with special needs kids, especially in positive behavior supports. My child has a disability and we’ve faced problems with appropriate child care. So do something – don’t just write articles about giving up. Whom does that serve?

  4. Stuart Duncan September 8, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Sorry Susan but not everyone is meant to work in child care. In fact, some people absolutely should not.

    Also, if you think this article is about giving up, you’ve missed the point entirely.

  5. Lisa Gallegos (@lovelylicious) September 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    I think its wonderful to hope and to say things should be different but that isn’t always the case. We mostly stay homebound cause the world isn’t ready for my son and I’m not ready to take on the entire world for what seems like common courtesy and strong moral values.

    I’m the mom who sits at home and knows her son’s school is failing him. I’m the mom who walks into that school office everyday and demand they do better. I’m the mom is going to call emergency IEP meetings to demand better services. But bottomline is that my sons teacher should have known how to handle him the minute he walked into class. That entire school should know. Everyone that walks planet earth should know, cause the numbers are rising and we are not going away.

  6. Susan Ford Keller September 8, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    Stuart, I concede being too glib about urging you to work in child care. And I’m not always the sharpest pencil in the box so what did I misunderstand in your article?

  7. Stuart Duncan September 8, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    Well, for one, I never once said to give up. Nor did I say that there were only “2 bad choices.”

    The whole point of the article is to recognize that just because a school or day care doesn’t take a child, it’s not “discrimination” so much as them being unable to care for that child adequately.

    What many people perceive as discrimination against children with Autism is actually a system that’s not equipped to handle the number of children.

    I never said that it’s ok that there isn’t enough services. I never said that the system is fine as it is. I never said to just give up and accept that your child might not get service from that school or day care.

    In fact, my own son wasn’t going to get any help so my family picked up and moved over 850km away to a town where he would get the help he needed.

    See… he was refused help… I didn’t whine, I didn’t have a defeatist attitude.. I did something about it.

    But I still recognize that while some people would have called it “discrimination” against Autism, it was actually just a system that had nothing for us.

  8. Susan Ford Keller September 8, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Thanks, Stuart.

  9. Tona Aspsusa September 13, 2011 at 8:34 am #

    This is part of a bigger picture, which in my country, Finland, seems to have touched much more than just education and services for kids.
    “Mainstreaming” isn’t just about schools, this idea – originally much needed – has also pervaded mental health, elder-care and (luckily not too much) medical care in general.

    One part of the problem (at least here, but while the details may vary, it is the same basic set of circumstances at work most everywhere in the developed world) is that the apex of the results of this ideological push coincided with the economic downturn of the early 90ies.
    Institutions were shut down, “according to plan”. In many cases probably a good thing, but in many cases a frightful squandering of intagibles (know-how, personal connections) and often a nasty disruption in the lives of vulnerable people.
    Unfortunately the resources planned for taking over the job the institutions had previously done never arrived. It is always easier to cut things not yet in existance.

    What does this have to do with “no capability to deal with special needs children”?
    It seems that the ideology of mainstreaming as the only right solution for everything might finally be on the wane. Things are becoming more balanced.

    So seeing more and more signs that people (and in particular professionals and politicians) are starting to realise that not everything can be handled “in the community” makes me guardedly optimistic.

    As the squarish aspie thinker I was as a teenager (social policy was almost a special interest of mine for a few years, for some reason dementia and eldercare fascinated me the most – even though it hardly touched my life or my family in any way) I could never understand why the cry was
    – “Do away with the bad gloomy institutions!” and not
    – “Make the bad gloomy instutions into centres of excellence!”
    Later, as a consumer of mental health services, I saw first hand how “old” hospital-based teams and services were de-funded and shattered, even though both professionals, patients and relatives fought hard for keeping them. But no, most everything should be done “in the community”. (I was saved by a resourceful family, I fear many of my fellow patients in the early 90-ies are dead today because of this mania for low-level “in the community” services, or rather “services”.)

    But things are slowly getting better again – diagnostic teams for neuropsychiatric issues in adults exist now when there were non only 5 years ago. It is now recognized that specialist services for Alzheimers etc is a good investment. Our local School for the Blind managed to survive the “close them down”-craze (the Deafschool didn’t), and is transforming itself into a national resource centre for special needs education issues, building on their knowledge of assistive technology to branch out from purely vision-related stuff.
    Local school administrations are realising that you don’t provide a good education to special needs pupils by giving them a cheap, totally uneducated, personal aide and dumping them on any unwilling teacher – so are starting to pool their special needs talents in some, otherwise totally “normal”, schools and preschools. (Heavens! Are they re-creating the dreaded “special schools” on the sly? Someone call the Inclusion Police!)

    There are good things happening in most every area (except “heavy psychiatry”).

    And not being served by every neighbourhood facility is IMO a good thing, if that means that there is actually appropriate service to be had elsewhere.
    An overly broad service-mandate on paper leads to many very unhappy clients/patients/pupils&parents, who have nowhere to turn, since they are already getting the “service”.

  10. sidther September 15, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    A few years ago the military moved us. When we went to go register my son at the local public school the staff in the office turned their noses up when they heard autism, they rolled there eyes and said “well what do think we’re gonna do about that? He’s not getting any more attention than the other kids”

    After a brief conversation with the principal who essentially told us that despite the rather large donation they had just been given by a charitable organization to help them set up a special education program, they would not be doing so. She suggested we try “the home for kids like that where they learn life skills” -HER words NOT mine

    OOOOH I was so mad!

    We opted to homeschool rather than fight that school for inclusion because it was clear that he would not be getting their best efforts no matter what a judge told them and while I wanted to fight for his rights, I could never have been sure that they were caring for him if he had gone.

    We now live where the teachers appreciate every child and they go above and beyond for those with special needs.

    So yes, although it was a horrible feeling, I am glad that we were clearly able to see the disdain before he attended- I can only imagine how horrible it would have been for him to be in a class where he was so clearly not welcome.

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