Autistic punished for wandering instead of school staff

Page 1 of 1 [ 4 posts ] 

ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 20,051
Location: Long Island, New York

17 Jun 2019, 5:33 pm

Mom: Autistic Boy’s Wandering Met With Punishment From School Despite Federal Law

Quote:
The mother of a Long Island boy with autism is livid after she says her son’s school mishandled a frightening incident during which he disappeared from the school.

The case is prompting calls for renewed awareness to protect children with autism, reports CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

The incident started after a 8th grade middle schooler named Michael wandered unnoticed from a school in Elwood in Suffolk County.

The 14-year-old student, who has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, was missing for an hour. School staff didn’t notice he left, and then after he was located, he walked home and his mother brought him back to school.

Instead of disciplining staff, school officials disciplined the boy by suspending him for five days – excluding him from graduation rehearsal, signing yearbooks with classmates and a school picnic.

Michael’s parents are citing Avonte’s Law, a federal law was passed to educate schools and caregivers on how to handle the propensity of people with autism to wander.

The law is named after two boys with autism who died after wandering from safety. In New York, Avonte Oquendo, 14, slipped out of his Queens school in October 2013 and was later found dead.

“The administration are not trained in the nuances of autism as they should be,” said therapist Jennifer Bohr-Cuevas.

Michael’s family calls the punishment cruel and isolating. Michaels say he was told he could attend the picnic if he apologized for wandering off, but his parents says say that amounts to aksing him to apologize for having autism.

This incident happened last week. The district would not comment due to confidentially rules, but in a statement said it is reviewing systems and protocols in and around our school facilities.

Michael’s mother is an attorney, but says at this point they are not suing, focusing instead on speaking out to spread awareness.


_________________
Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman


Mona Pereth
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 11 Sep 2018
Age: 61
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,913
Location: New York City (Queens)

18 Jun 2019, 1:50 am

I just now watched the video.

I thought wandering was an issue primarily for the more severely disabled autistic people?

Frankly that kid seems to me to be aware enough to be at least somewhat responsible for his actions. While I agree with the parents that suspending him for 5 days was an overly harsh punishment, I don't see anything wrong with the school asking the kid to apologize, at the very least.


_________________
- My WP Friendship Board - Age 19 Onward post, November 2019.
- My WP Regional Meetup & Networking Thread Index post, August 2019.
- My WP "Getting to know each other" thread: Hello from NYC, begun October 2018.


EzraS
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 24 Sep 2013
Gender: Male
Posts: 24,182
Location: Twin Peaks

18 Jun 2019, 2:20 am

I think a high functioning autistic can be susceptible to wandering off. They said he's wonderd off before that. It's hard to say if it's autistic wandering or just playing hooky. But it sounds like the school jumped the gun without weighing things out. And also if he has wandered before perhaps they should have been more vigilant.



ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 20,051
Location: Long Island, New York

18 Jun 2019, 3:51 am

I don't know enough about him or his history and certainly not why he went home in the middle of the school day to make any judgment so the rest of this post is speculation. We know autistics can be seemingly normal in one area and clueless in the obvious. While he is "high functioning" enough to attend a mainstream school and walk home he might not "get" the obligation to be in school until closing time. There might a bullying or sensory problem that makes school unbearable.

Assuming autism is being used as an excuse and he is a chronic hooky player and thus a suspension is warranted this suspension is questionable because irrespective of his offense he earned the privilege of attending the pre-graduation activities. In sports, it is common practice if a player does something suspension worthy during the playoffs or championship rounds that the player serves the suspension at the beginning of next season. This solution would cause some problems in that you don't want him to miss the first 5 days of high school. But there is no reason the suspension cannot be served sometime early in the new school year.


_________________
Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman