In a June commentary about the Minneapolis Public Schools autism program, Margaret Sullivan says not to worry because fewer than 25 kindergarteners will be affected by the new changes. However, many parents are having difficulty staying calm.
This year, 23 incoming kindergartners with Autism Spectrum Disorder have been denied proper access to educational support. Because early intervention is the best type of therapy for children with autism, parent concerns are growing. Soon, Minneapolis schools will be filled with autistic children who are not receiving proper intervention and therapy. This could lead to possible trauma and force the children to face potential lifelong consequences.
Along with that, the school district is closing some ASD early-childhood special education classrooms. With these two factors converging, classrooms are becoming more crowded and forcing children with ASD to be sent to schools where they aren’t getting proper, individualized interventions. It is also leading to more sensory vulnerabilities that can lead to meltdowns, which are occasionally loud and violent.
In Minneapolis, it’s not just parents who want the school district to change. Teachers, students, and alumni of the program are also signing petitions that ask the district to maintain its current level of support for students with autism. However, teachers are unable to speak out (unless it’s privately or anonymously) because they are scared of losing their jobs.
In the past, citywide autism programs were extremely successful in helping autistic children grow into functioning adults who contribute to their communities. Now, Minneapolis parents are asking for the same opportunity for their children. In the end, everyone deserves an education that will help them grow to their full potential.
Written By Sejal Sheth