Search This Blog

Friday, April 19, 2024

The Need for Autism-Specific Programs in School

In The Politics of Autism, I write:

But what is equal treatment? This question raises the “dilemma of difference,” as legal scholar Martha Minow explains. “When does treating people differently emphasize their differences and stigmatize or hinder them on that basis? And when does treating people the same become insensitive to their difference and likely to stigmatize or hinder them on that basis?”[i]

[i] Martha Minow, Making All the Difference (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990), 20.

Jamie Mihoiko Doyle at Newsweek:
Frustratingly, autism programs are being emaciated under the veil of equity and efficiency: That by combining kids with autism who were receiving the support they needed with other children with various learning disabilities with less specialized support means that all needs will be met.

Why have all these children drink from specialized cups of autism support when they can drink from a special education trough instead?

Diluting support for these kids under the veil of equity and efficiency is dishonest. These actions are ableist.

"Equity" would be expanding these autism-specific programs across the county and the nation. Every child with my son's autism phenotype deserves the program that my son is enrolled in today.

Touting autism awareness while silently pulling the rug of support from under them are incongruous acts.

The assassination of autism-specific programs is a national issue. Just last year, schools in Houston, Texas eliminated their "autism services team", which was described by an educator as a "lifeline" for teachers.

Instead, the school district generalized the support into a "special education unit." Buffalo Public Schools in New York eliminated classes with the lowest student-to-teacher ratios for elementary school students with autism to "maximize resources."


 There is both a current and future demand for autism-specific services, suggesting a need to expand specialized programs and enhance the recruitment and retention of autism-trained paraeducators. Diluting autism support is short-sighted and jeopardizes their chances of achieving independence as adults.