Let me preface this by saying that I don’t doubt for a second that this teacher had to deal with some rude students and parents. And I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she was working hard to accommodate any special needs students that she had in her class. The problem I have with articles like these is that they perpetuate the idea that behavior is 100% under the control of the child and that bad behavior is the fault of the parents. These ideas are so subtly woven through SO MANY articles, comments people make, etc. We’re so used to them we don’t even notice. But they’re so harmful to autistic children and their families. The idea that bad behavior can be “beaten out” (metaphorically or literally) of a child is a) crappy and can lead to abuse, b) can cause a delay in seeking a diagnosis, and c) when an autism/sensory processing/other diagnosis is made it can result in people, even within the immediate family, who don’t believe the diagnosis and not only undermine therapies but shame the parents with comments like “he just needs a good spanking.”
So without further ado, here is the article in question. I copy/pasted some sections below with my edits in red.
One of the earliest things my mom taught me and my siblings growing up whenever we went anywhere was that we should treat that place like our own home. If we were playing with someone else’s toys, we should treat it like it was our own property. That, coupled with the fact that we ARE NEUROTYPICAL and didn’t grow up as the family who always had all of the newest toys and gadgets, meant that we had a respect for our own belongings, and coincidentally a respect for other people’s because our mom stayed on top of us. Also, being neurotypical, we were intrinsically motivated by social rewards, such as not having other people get mad at us. Now it might seem like such a simple concept for someone to grasp, but we’ve all met those kids who are basically a walking tornado. They leave mayhem in their wake, wherever they roam. Now you can scold the child and ask them just who the heck they think they are, or if they’re a toddler, just chalk it up to the fact that they’re going through the Satan Spawn phase of their life. Alternatively, some children get distressed easily in situations where there is a lot of visual and/or aural stimulation. These children sometimes use behavior to communicate the fact that they are anxious or even physically hurting if they are non-verbal or too overwhelmed to use words. Luckily, if these children are fortunate enough to have someone around them who understands this form of communication the situation can usually be deescalated fairly quickly. But if they’re old enough to know better and still see no problem with their behavior, then that responsibility falls squarely on the parent’s shoulders. I mean, yes, kids can be influenced by their friends and what they see on TV, but ultimately parents should be in control of that. So I get where this teacher is coming from with her epic rant on parents who “enable” kids’ bad behavior.
I am including photos that I took in my classroom over the past two days. This is how my classroom regularly looks after my students spend all day there. Keep in mind that many of the items damaged or destroyed by my students are my personal possessions or I purchased myself, because I have NO classroom budget. Luckily I understand that school is a very challenging environment for some children. Between the academics and just trying to behave all day, it can be hard for any kid but especially those who have to work harder than their peers to understand the reading or math and/or just to process the world around them. Therefore, I proactively plan for challenging behaviors and I would never fill my classroom with expensive and/or breakable items. I spend time trying to figure out what is causing the challenging behavior and I also advocate for more support for my students who need it, such as having an aide in the classroom. It is a lot of extra work but all students are legally entitled to a public education, so we would never try to push a student out of the system because he/she is “too diffficult.” However, in some cases the lack of parental and adminstrative support really does make it very difficult for me to do my job. I have finally had enough of the disregard for personal and school property and am drawing a line in the sand on a myriad of behaviors that I am through tolerating. Unfortunately, one parent today thought it was wrong of me to hold her son accountable for his behavior and decided to very rudely tell me so, in front of her son.
I have never heard of a profession where people put so much of their heart and soul into their job, taking time and resources from their home and family, and getting paid such an insultingly measly amount. Teachers are some of the most kind and giving people I have ever met, yet they get treated so disrespectfully from all sides.
Most Some parents can’t stand to spend more than a couple hours a day with their kid, (but by the way, many parents spend countless hours taking their child to therapy and advocating for him/her at IEP meetings, only to get constant push-back, because the supports needed for their child to be in an inclusive educational environment are “too expensive”) but we spend 8 with yours and 140 others just like him. Is it too much to ask for a little common courtesy and civil conversation?