Okay, so I came across this news article yesterday about a 6 year old girl in the US who was disruptive at school, the police were called, she was handcuffed and taken to the station. It's an old story from April of last year so I'm not too sure why there was a fresh link to it from the new.com.au website, but it was still an interesting read. In a nutshell, the girl was having a tantrum, damaged school property, and tried to run away several times.
Following the white rabbit of url links I then came across this story about a 5 year old boy with autism who was also removed from school by police. I think what makes me upset about both of these stories is the lack of understanding and support given to the families. No diagnosis is mentioned for the 6 year old girl, but any 6 year old who reacts with such violence is in need of help. Whether it is a medical diagnosis or she is at risk due to social and economic reasons, why is there no mention of the support given to the family to help resolve the issue. Either there was none, or good news doesn't sell enough newspapers.
I received a Facebook message this week from a mum saying she likes to read 'inspirational' blog, particularly from parents of kids with a disability. (Find me on Facebook here). I don't consider myself inspirational. An advocate yes; a loud, noisy, squeaky wheel advocate. I certainly want to share some of the insider knowledge I have as a special ed teacher, but I'm doing the same jobs as many other parents out there.
I wonder why as parents we are either seen as inspirational or unable to parent properly. When others see us at the shops, dealing with a child in the middle of a meltdown there are always comments. There's the patronising - 'You're doing such a good job', umm, you mean the same job as everyone else where I parent and love my child? or 'Why can't you just discipline your child?' oh, you mean beat the child for not coping with the noise of the shops? Sometimes I feel like I can't win either way. Maybe that in itself falls into the 'we're the same as every other parent' category. It doesn't matter whether it's breastfeeding, toileting, private schooling, extra curricula activities, no extra curricula activities, we will always be judged for our parenting choices.
Perhaps instead of handcuffing the children for having tantrums at school, or judging the child or parent during a meltdown at the shops, we could step up and say, 'Can I do anything to help?' Novel idea really.
Can I suggest you check out this wonderful program I found on ABC iView this week? Part of it looks at this incredible school in the US and part of it explores the lives of the families who attend the school.
Image from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01gk4xc
Note: I do know there is a difference between a tantrum and a meltdown and I hope I haven't offended any parents by using them interchangeably here.