I want to tell you about my little boy, he’s 4, he’s gorgeous, and he has Autism.
He currently attends a local Free Kindergarten, he has an Education Support Worker for 6 hours a week. I am told this is the maximum time allowed for him.
His support team include, his family, kindy teachers, his ESW, a Speech Therapist and Special Ed teacher. They all work incredibly hard with him and for him.
Minister, do you know how the process works? Let me give you a brief outline of what happens, and how his IEP is set.
1 A meeting is set with his Special Ed teacher
2 Together we go through our day, hour by hour, I have to describe our routine, from waking up, to going to bed.
3 Then I have to prioritize the things that my son struggles with the most, and the things that I struggle with.
4 Then we figure out which of those things transfer to kindy, this is when we set the IEP.
As you would expect, with a hard working support team my son has made good progress. I have been assured he will continue to make progress. I have also been assured that his Autism will never go away, he will never be Neuro Typical.
I have been told that when my son turns 5 and starts school, there will be little/no chance of support for him at school. I have also been told that his ESW is not allowed to help with his transition to school.
Minister, I want you to imagine something for me, lets pretend you broke your leg, you had a cast for 6 weeks, after that time your cast comes off and your DR says to you “Walk Minister” now imagine that you don’t feel comfortable walking unsupported, you would like some physio or perhaps a walking stick, that you could use for a short time, until you could walk unsupported.
You can see where I’m going with this Minister. Thanks to YOU, my son when he turns 5, will be left in a new environment with no support. Because he is Included in the classroom, YOU believe he has no other need.
Minister, he has a need, do you know what Autism is? He struggles to build social relationships, he struggles to voice his opinion. He doesn’t learn the way a Neuro typical child does. YOU believe this is ok, he’s included, but not supported.
Minister, how is his teacher supported? He/she will need to assess my sons knowledge. This will take time, as the guidelines YOU have in place are not suited to him. Minister, how are the other children supported? Maybe there will be other kids with Autism or a learning difference in my sons class, YOU believe this is good, they are included, not supported.
The school will try to help, Maybe my son will be put together with other kids into a remedial group? Making children who struggle socially work together in a Neuro Typical way. – Included, but not supported.
Minister, I suggest you look at giving these kids a fair chance at a decent education. Increasing support for new entrants and teachers is a way to go, building on the ECE support, and giving kids a good start to school is only going to help right?