To begin this I need to explain to you what in my life causes me to object to this policy.
I have volunteered in the past with a Resident’s Association and as a Baseball Coach so i am not unfamiliar with the concept of being a volunteer and am not against volunteering
Presently I have a son who is six and in kindergarten. A typical day with him will involve at least one serious attempt to escape his TAs and usually at least one outburst of some form that will involve throwing something at random or striking out at his TAs. See my son is Autistic and this is a good day.
His attempts to escape are standard he will wait till his TA is answering a question or perhaps even just a step or two behind him and he will bolt. Experience allows the TA’s to avoid most escapes and ability as well as standard school lockdown procedures means the rest are blocked. At lunch and recess he will as a normal daily activity walk the circumference of the playground fencing looking for holes.
His striking out or throwing are always caused by the same thing. Asking him to do something he is not prepared to do at that particular time. They could include things like sitting and listening to the teacher, sharing a toy, or any number of other things a student would normally be expected to do. It is for this reason he is assigned a Full Time TA.
And before someone goes off halfcocked and suggests that perhaps these students dont belong in a classroom the latest figures suggest that 1 in 91 children born develop Autism that percentage is increasing rapidly. In the 1960’s 1 in 1000 born developped Autism and as recently as late 1990’s the numbers were 1 in 110 so the growth of Autism is increasing generation by generation.
It also needs to be noted that my son is non-verbal while my wife, myself his TA’s and those who closely interact with him on a daily basis would understand a few words he uses to the majority he will have maybe 10 words if he chooses to acknowledge you even exist.
This is not the type of person that should ever be put in a situation where he is forced to deal with any person against his own initiation.
The concept of mandatory volunteering concerns me because there would not be those safeguards. Unless his TAs were present he would simply walk away. without verbal skills we would only be able to rely on luck to ever find him. And top that off with the risk that on that particular day he could decide that he was unhappy with what he was asked to do and chose to throw the tray of food across the room or perhaps the heavy oak table that took six people to bring into the room could end up on it’s side.
See people who say well it will be good for them don’t understand Autism and they dont understand that while they can tell your child don’t talk to strangers or perhaps don’t go out of the yard or even dont play in the street. The day before I installed Chain locks over MY head on all exterior doors My son unlocked the back door, walked barefoot down a gravel driveway, across a busy two lane road, down the street, onto a main road where he was picked up by a passing officer walking down the middle of the road. This all took less then 10 minutes during which time HE NEVER LOOKED UP FROM HIS VIDEO GAME. He would never have realized he was in the least bit of danger.
Take a close look at autistic children in the news across north america. see how many of them have walked away from home in just the last year. how many of them lived. Then realize the system that needs to be in place between parent, teacher, TA and family on a daily basis.
How can you expect that mandatory volunteer work is going to be a benefit to these children, how can you expect another student to watch them, and every school in this province likely has at least one Autistic child some have many more then that.
This program is a risk that parents of Autistic children simply cannot allow it is far to dangerous not only to our children but to others who do not understand how to deal with them