Quebec threatens school for autistic children (Nathan Friedland)
“Pre-school for autistic children in jeopardy” July 16 2014.
I was first introduced to autism 32 years ago when I went to the Mackay Center for two years as part of their fabulous reverse integration program which enables children without disabilities to learn about life with those who are disabled. It was during those two years that I learned about empathy, respect, and how to think outside the box in order to help people. In my second year in the school, after careful consideration by my teachers, I was “buddied” with an autistic boy with the hopes that I could somehow bring him out of his shell. Even at the age of 12, I found that being with disabled children, especially my autistic friend, was life affirming. I learned that exceptional children need exceptional care and that no matter what people might think or say, helping people is what matters.
After seeing the “Little Red Playhouse” story, watching the children play and learn because of the wonderful attention they receive, I was reminded of my youth and why we sometimes must fight for what we believe in because it is right.
Clearly, the “Little Red Playhouse” (LRP) is not a regular school, but neither is the Mackay Center. One has to wonder if the LRP’s students were “regular” would the Quebec’s Family Ministry be entertaining unknown complaints that likely have no merit? After hearing testimony from parents whose children attend the school, how can the Ministry’s representative Nadia Caron site “risks to the safety and security of the children” as a reason that her bosses can’t tolerate the situation.
What we have here is a brave mother (Sharon McCarry) who thought outside the box and made a school that helps children and their families who the government didn’t think of. The Family Ministry needs to make an exception and grant her a permit to operate and remember that their definition of a normal child might not be the same as everyone else’s.
Nathan Friedland RN