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Teaching: New Zealand vs. Arizona

  • Posted on June 6, 2010 at 1:32 AM

Compare this:

In May 2009, the team decided he had met the goals of his plan. His family asked for a new review, but Bruno said school-district officials declined, saying Luke was fine.

In October, two months after Dr. Daniel Kessler of St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center confirmed autism, it was clear Luke wasn't fine.

The kindergarten teacher complained repeatedly in e-mails to Bruno of Luke's misbehaviors - spitting, hitting, throwing sand at other children and defecating in the classroom.

The teacher also said Luke seemed "defiant" but she didn't believe it was because Luke had autism.

In March, Gentry confirmed autism. The education team created an IEP to address autism.

A week later, Luke's teacher wrote to Bruno, "I don't even want him in my classroom to be honest with you."

Bruno filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to investigate discrimination. The teacher was placed on temporary leave as punishment.

To this:

New Zealand schools should view autism as a learning preference, rather than a difficulty or disability, says UK educationalist Neil Mackay.

His comments come in response to Autism New Zealand’s statement that social stigma, intolerance and ignorance in the education system are holding back the development of children with autism and driving many parents to remove their children from mainstream learning environments.

Neil Mackay is in the country this week presenting training workshops to over a thousand teachers and principals on how to meet atypical learning needs without affecting the classroom experience of other students.

He says that with the growing numbers of autistic learners, teachers need to support their inclusion in the mainstream by understanding their learning preferences and employing practical tools and strategies to improve outcomes in the classroom.

“This means fine-tuning learning so students feel empowered and supported to achieve. For children on the autism spectrum, it’s about helping teachers to understand that these children often need detail, order and certainty in their learning environment and finding practical solutions so these students can operate comfortably and confidently in the classroom,” says Mackay.

Which “z” would you rather live in?