A father of a child who has autism started getting notes sent home from school with his child. The notes said that his son had violent outbursts at school. The son couldn’t tell his father what was going on, so the father put a recording device into his son’s pocket before sending him to school. It turned out he was being bullied by his teachers.
Stuart Chaifetz is a single parent. His son, Akian, is ten years old and has autism. Akian, like many kids who have an autism spectrum disorder, has difficulties with verbal communication. Therefore, Akian couldn’t simply come home and tell his father about what happened at school that caused him to become violent.
This made it rather difficult for Stuart to find out why Akian was having some violent outbursts at school. The notes sent home said that Akian had hit his teacher and an aide. Stuart had never seen Akian become violent with anyone, ever. An IEP meeting was held, with Stuart, the teacher, the school social worker, the occupational therapist, and the speech teacher. From that meeting, it was decided that a behaviorist would come observe Akian in the classroom. The behaviorist never once observed Akian being violent. There were no answers.
So, Stuart decided to do what he could to discover what was really going on in his son’s classroom. He sent Akian to school with an audio recording device in his pocket. Akian came home with over six hours of audio for his father to listen to.
The results were absolutely shocking! It turned out that Akian was having violent outbursts after being bullied several times throughout the school day. He was not being bullied by the other students in his classroom, or by students from other classrooms. Akian was being bullied by his teacher and aides.
Stuart Chaifetz created a YouTube video where he discusses this situation, and includes some of the audio. If you want to know more, or hear more audio, you can. He created a website called “Teacher/Bully”. There are recordings of the teacher and aides having inappropriate conversations in front of the students, and more instances of them verbally mistreating Akian.
Akian’s teachers told him, and other students to “shut up”, or “shut your mouth”. The teachers made fun of him for talking quietly to himself, (something that is not unheard of for a child who has autism to do).
There is a point where Akian is asking for reassurance that he will see his dad after he sees his mom over the weekend. The teacher tells him “no”, which causes Akian to cry. You can hear adults laughing in the audio recordings. It is after this happens that Akian has a violent meltdown. This is what was really going on in Akian’s classroom.
Image by Alan Levine on Flickr