The District investigation into the incident with Alex Barton now includes a statement from Alex Barton.
Why am I keeping up on this case? Isn't it cut-and-dry? What's the big deal? Aren't there other, more important, stories about people with autism to follow?
Although I said last time that I had stopped reading the editorial letters in the TCPalm because they made my blood pressure go up, that I couldn't stand the bald-faced ignorance and unadulterated hatred being revealed through the letters being written about the case, that they struck fear into my heart for Joey, there is also one thing more.
There but for the Grace of God go we.
Several of the letters and comments say the case has raised awareness, but then go on to say that Alex Barton was misbehaving, or that the situation was somehow the fault of Alex or his mother. That tells me that awareness hasn't been raised at all. Only shackles.
Several of the letters and comments say that Wendy Portillo and the school are not at fault because Alex should have been in a special class. This ignores the fact that children like Alex have a legal right to be in the least restrictive environment, that Wendy Portillo was left for months without appropriate training or support, and that Wendy Portillo could have gained valuable strategies for dealing with and understanding Alex with a simple Google search. A lot of information has become easily available via the internet in the last few years- even in just the little while I've been blogging. I'm adding valuable websites to my list for parents all the time (have a favorite info site? do send it along!). No effort was put forth to support Alex Barton in any way, by any of the school personnel who should have been supporting and protecting him.
The prevalence of these views is horrifying. We're not getting the word out. We're not getting that awareness raised. We have got to get out there and get in the faces of these people. Whatever you believe about autism, about its causes, about the strategies for dealing with autism, raising a child with autism, providing services for autistic people- folks, this case is just plain ugly. Get out there and tell people: this is not about bad parenting, and it is not about spoiled children, or children lacking obedience or respect.
Punishing a child does not take the autism away.