It’s the end of the school year and both students and teachers are looking forward to several months of being away from the four walls of their school. Some kids can’t wait for summer while there are some who are sad because they enjoy their class and their teacher. Some teachers even make the end of school even more fun for the students by handing out special and funny awards.
There’s one teacher in Gary, Indiana though who did this but disappointed one family.
In a school luncheon in front of his classmates, teachers, parents, and school principal, one male student was handed out the “Most Annoying Male” award. Oh, did we mention the male student was also a non-verbal autistic and the teacher who handed out the award was a special education teacher?
The student’s parents were so disappointed at the lack of empathy and sensitivity of the teacher. They’ve entrusted their child’s education to the teacher for the whole year, only to find out their son treated this way.
“We just weren’t expecting it,” Rick Castejon, the boy’s father, said to USA Today. “As a principal or teacher, you should never let this happen to any student.”
Castejon’s son is a non-verbal autistic person.
He rocks back and forth and is easily emotional. “A special needs education teacher should know how to handle these situations,” Castejon said.
According to a study by Boston University, 30% of the people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder “never learn to speak more than a few words.” There aren’t enough studies about non-verbal autism yet but from what they’ve studied, they’ve noticed a few important factors.
Some do develop the ability to use a few words in a significant manner but not enough to hold a significant conversation. Some “nonverbal” people have the ability to speak through scripts that were read to them and they use “scripting” as a form of self-calming stimulation. Quite a few nonverbal individuals are able to communicate effectively with written or typed language, American sign language, picture cards, or digital communication devices.
According to studies, people with non-verbal autism understand much more than they communicate; but how much more, and at what level, is what remains unclear. There are many methods to encourage, teach and improve spoken language for children with autism, but there is still no guarantee that any particular approach will be effective for any given child.
Gary Community School Corp. has issued an apologized to the student and his family.
“An apology was extended on behalf of the district to the family, and disciplinary action was taken against personnel involved,” Peter Morikis, the Emergency Manager said, told USA Today.
“We acknowledge the potential impact that an experience like this could have on a child’s mental well-being, self-esteem and overall level of comfortability in a learning environment going forward.”
Morikis also met with the Castejon family to discuss the situation and to take immediate action. He said that he can have the teacher suspended and dismissed, if possible.
Since the incident, NWI Times has reported that three teachers from the school have been dismissed for their participation in the awarding of the “Most Annoying Male” award. The decision was made after an internal investigation was conducted by an outside legal party. Morikis has declined to comment though if the fifth-grade student’s teacher was one of the teachers dismissed.
For the Castejon family, they weren’t looking for handouts or sympathy.
They just wanted to speak out for the other families who went through what they did and to prevent other families from experiencing what they did. “We just wanted a voice,” he shared with NWI Times.
He and his wife have already been discussing to move their son to another school even prior to the luncheon. And now, the unfortunate event has made their decision even clearer.
Learn more about what happened when you watch the video below.
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