Autistic boy records teachers’ insults

Ten-year-old Akian Chafetz, who is autistic, was bullied at school — by his teacher and aide in a class for autistic children, charges a New Jersey father. Stuart Chaifetz sent his son to school with a recorder in his pocket.

A teacher or aide can be heard saying angrily, “Who are you talking to? Nobody. Knock it off.” Akian is also told several times to shut his mouth.

After being scolded several times, Akian begins to cry and the administrator said, “Go ahead and scream because guess what? You’re going to get nothing until your mouth is shut.”

At another point, the teacher or aide calls Akian a “bastard” when he will not stop crying.

Chaifetz posted the recording on a Facebook site, No More Teacher Bullies, and took it to the district office. The aide was fired, he says, but the teacher, who has tenure, was transferred to another school.

However, Cherry Hill Superintendent Maureen Reusche said in a statement that “the individuals who are heard on the recording raising their voices and inappropriately addressing children no longer work in the district and have not since shortly after we received the copy of the recording.”

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Chaifetz isn’t the first parent to send a disabled child to school with a recording device, notes ABC. “In March, two Alabama teachers were put on administrative leave after the mother of 10-year-old Jose Salinas, who has cerebral palsy, attached an audio recorder to the bottom of his wheelchair and caught them scolding him about drooling, among other things.”

I predict many more parents will try this if they think their child isn’t able to tell them what goes on at school.

Ed Week‘s Nirvi Shah cites other cases and also thinks we’ll see more covert recording.

Update: The Cherry Hill special education teacher says she was at a meeting when the aides yelled at Akian and heard no abuse of the boy. The father says he’s got several more hours of tape that implicates the teacher.

For science fair, science should count

Lefty’s autistic son started doing science experiments at the age of two, but he’s never been chosen to represent his class in the middle-school science fair. Why not?

To make it past that first hurdle, it turns out, you have to be elected by the majority of your classmates. And for this, you are evaluated not on the scientific merits of your experiment, but on the quality of your presentation.

Thus, graphic design and public speaking skills trump scientific talent, further reducing what few opportunities remain for left-brainers to distinguish themselves.

Why not pick the best scientist — and then add a kid who’s good at graphics and a kid who’s good at public speaking to the team?